During a very brief hearing this morning, City Council's Committee on Public Health and Human Services voted to favorably recommend a bill introduced by Councilman Bill Greenlee that clarifies how many cats and dogs residents can keep on their properties.
"Currently, the code reads that no more than 12 animals can be kept in a dwelling," testified the Managing Director's Office Chief of Staff Brian Abernathy, who was the only witness that spoke. "This provision has led to confusion about whether or not animals can be kept on the property but not physically in the dwelling unit."
The bill changes the language to clarify that the 12-animal limit applies to any parcel of land where a single residence is located or to any residential unit on land where there are multiple dwellings.
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell asked for a clarification on what "kept on the property" means. "There are some people, myself included, who feed stray animals. That doesn't mean you keep them," she said.
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"Animals must be kept on the property," Abernathy replied. "Feeding feral cats is different than keeping them on your property."
Abernathy said after the hearing that the city's animal code as currently written is confusing and difficult to enforce when it comes to the issue. "We've had a number of cases in the past couple of years where residents have had 12 or more cats or dogs on their property, but not in their house," he said. "They were cited, but the citations were overturned. This way, it's easier for officers to enforce, easier for the public to understand and healthier for neighbors."
The bill was voted out of the committee with a favorable recommendation and the rules of Council were suspended to allow for a first reading of the legislation on Thursday.