Friday, June 22, 2007
Animal Control Suggestions Misguided
Amendments by Ward 2 Aldermen Jim Aziere to undo portions of the city’s new animal control ordinance are misguided. Aziere has suggested that tethering of dogs be allowed in the front of yard of homes, exotic birds exempted from the code, and that the breeding of dogs be allowed in residential neighborhoods. BREEDING: Last year three Aldermen spent over six months holding meeting and listening to over 20 hours of testimony from Raytowners on their thoughts about a new animal control ordinance. A good number of citizens who came forward complained about the breeding of animals in residential areas. The committee agreed that breeding the animals for commercial purposes was outside the definition of proper use in a residentially zoned area. The end result was the prohibition of breeding of animals in residentially zoned areas. It was a good idea then. It is a good idea now. No doubt some will come forward to claim it is just a hobby. Without exception, these “hobby breeders” are also in the business to make a buck. If they wish to breed animals they can do so away from their homes. It is an interesting truism that some of those on the Board of Aldermen who complain about low property values in Raytown do not recognize that it is practices such as allowing the breeding of animals in residentially zoned neighborhoods that help drive those values down. TETHERING IN FRONT YARDS: Tethering is considered by animal experts to be a cruel way to harness any animal. There are other good reasons not to allow the tethering of an animal in the front yard. The most obvious is that if a dog gets loose from its tether in the front yard, it is free to run and possibly attack people or other animals. Another reality is that in the times in which we live, some individuals have been known to use the their pets as dog alarms. It was noted in the committee that there have been instances of drug dealers using the dogs as a deterrent to keep city code officials and police away from their homes. The most notorious such instance occurred in Kansas City last year when a police officer was attacked by a large dog when he was investigating a complaint about a possible meth lab. The animal had actually been trained to attack anyone wearing a uniform. The officer had to shoot the dog to keep from being harmed. That same meth lab problem, evidenced a couple years ago when a meth lab in a home in the northern part of Raytown literally exploded into flames proves the problem is not just a “K.C.” problem. EXOTIC BIRDS: The ordinance stipulates that all fowl, which, of course, includes exotic birds, be tethered or kept in a pen. It also limits the number of pets per household to four. That limit includes birds of a feather. So, you could have one bird, one cat and two dogs – any combination of pets. Aziere had suggested that the limit be removed because he found a nursing home located in Raytown that has large displays with more than four birds per display. He may have a point about the birds in the large display case at a nursing home. But allowing more than four birds per household in residentially zoned areas is a mistake. Ward 5 Alderman Marilyn pointed out that this would allow an individual to keep hundreds of such birds. Though it may seem far-fetched – Mrs. Fleming’s point is more on target than Aziere’s. Consider an eccentric individual who harbors hundreds of cats in a home – a health hazard is created. The same would be true for birds. Aziere’s retirement home could be exempted from the ordinance by definition of the container holding the birds or by zoning classification. The new animal control ordinance may need a little tweaking to make it just right. But Aziere’s suggestions are over the top and should be rejected by the Board of Aldermen.