Fiscal court reviewing its 2016 ‘dog’ ordinance

Published 8:42 am Friday, February 26, 2021

While researching how the county could find a way for dog kennels and neighbors to peacefully exist side-by-side, an ordinance already on the books was found that could be the answer.

The center of the issue stems from a new commercial dog kennel on Maple Avenue, located on property that’s zoned Agriculture. But a next-door neighbor, and residents of Argyll subdivision, located within the city limits whose backyards adjoin the kennel property are complaining about the dogs barking.

At Tuesday’s fiscal court meeting, County Administrator Julie Wagner said, “I discovered Boyle County has an animal control ordinance. No. 842, passed in 2016, addresses a lot of things we’ve been talking about. The work has already been done,” including when barking dogs can be declared a nuisance.

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Wagner said she discovered the “dog” ordinance late last week and shared the 28-page document with magistrates Friday afternoon. She also provided the court with several suggestions on how to amend the ordinance in order to simplify it and to “treat the licensing of kennels as a business license.”

Wagner also gave the court sample inspection and complaint forms that could be adopted thereby giving Animal Control the tools to enforce the ordinance.

Wagner suggested that the court not take any action on the matter until they’ve had time to read the ordinance “and see if it’s the direction we still want to go.”

Magistrate Tom Ellis said, “Now we need to take a breath and take the opportunity to really review … the document.” He added that no action should be taken against anyone “because I’m aware of some other violations in that 28 pages and we should not be imposing them.”

Magistrate Jason Cullen said he wanted to make sure that no local kennels would be held liable for any violations of the five-year-old ordinance “that none of us were really aware of. … There should be a moratorium until we can figure this out.”

Judge Executive Howard Hunt said he agreed “100%.” He said he was “uncomfortable” to have the fiscal court discuss it “until you have more time to digest this 2016 ordinance and the recommendations that this office has made to amended and improve the ordinance …”

Hunt added, “We will discuss this at length at the next court session. Not because of any great number of interest by the public in the issue. It’s for the court to have more time to discuss and to digest the information that we have recently uncovered.”

After the meeting, Wagner said her research found that “Everything is on the books to deal with animal management, boarding, noise, neglect, etc.” However, “The county never adopted a policy and procedure to implement the ordinance.”

She added, “This slipped by several departments and tenured individuals as the process evolved.”

According to The Advocate-Messenger archives, the ordinance that was uncovered dates from April 26, 2016. It was conceived following a case involving several large and sometimes aggressive breed of dogs known as Presa Canarios, that were seized during a raid on a home on Old Shakertown Road in July, 2015. The Boyle County Animal Shelter spent more than $10,000 to feed and house the dogs while their owner fought to keep them, which were valued at several thousand dollars.

The Presas were eventually sent to a rescue agency in Kansas for adoption.

According to the newspaper story, the 2016 ordinance not only imposed stricter regulations for those who abuse animals, but also provided new regulations for kennels and pet stores. It also tightened up local animal control regulations.

In July of 2018 fiscal court said it wanted to review its dog ordinance “in an effort to resolve a discrepancy between the county’s rules and Planning & Zoning,” according to an article in The Advocate-Messenger. It stated that the court should focus on nuisance issues while P&Z would “revisit definition of kennel as a business.”

This time the issue revolved a situation where Magistrate Phil Sammons had received several complaints in his district about a home in a subdivision where the owner was keeping up to 16 dogs.

Sammons was quoted as saying, “As a court, I think we need to take a look at this dog ordinance the county has. I’m not real happy with it at all, and I’d like for us to look at it and see what we can do.” Sammons said. “There’s no reason in the world that people in a nice subdivision or neighborhood, or anywhere has to put up with a bunch of dogs barking all the time. And our ordinance doesn’t cover that too well. And I’m not happy with the way it’s written.”