Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Louisville Dog Ordinance

I'm a dog lover so it comes as no surprise that I am not a big fan of the animal ordinance that the Louisville Metro Council recently voted to enact.
The wide-ranging ordinance began as an effort to ban pit bulls and ended as legislation that rewrote many of the city's animal-control laws.

Council member Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5th, first proposed rewriting the dog laws in the fall of 2005 after a 2-year-old girl was killed by her family's pit bull.

About that time, a 65-year-old man was killed when two dogs -- at first thought to be pit bulls -- attacked him.

The new ordinance, which would go into effect over the next three months after the mayor signs it, requires all dogs to be spayed or neutered unless dog owners purchase a $50 permit.

It requires that all dogs impounded by Metro Animal Services be spayed or neutered before they are returned to their owners, and it limits the number of dogs that can be kept outside on residential properties of less than 2 acres.

Unaltered animals must be kept on short leashes or in cages while on city streets.

Animal groups almost unanimously oppose the legislation, arguing that it punishes responsible dog owners while doing little to protect people from truly dangerous dogs.

But Animal Services Director Gilles Meloche has said that changes in the law will make it easier for his officers to cite people for violations and will make it easier to ensure that dogs are properly registered with the city.

Last week, Jon Fleischaker, a lawyer representing the Louisville Kennel Club, sent a letter to council President Kevin Kramer, R-11th, saying the council should reconsider its action passing the ordinance because of an open-meetings violation.

Fleischaker says the council's Democratic Caucus violated the open-meetings law twice on the day that the council passed the ordinance.

Hamilton, the ordinance's sponsor, held a work session early in the day to go over changes in the ordinance, with the full caucus meeting at 4 p.m.

Fleischaker says the Democrats should have given notice of the meetings to the media and posted the notices conspicuously. Fleischaker, who often represents The Courier-Journal, is not representing the newspaper in this matter.
My family is responsible when it comes to our dog. Pit bulls are the ones that this bill should really be going after.

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