Mt. Vernon Register-News

March 20, 2013

Council to change dog ordinance


MT. VERNON — — The city council is preparing to change an ordinance on dog ownership in the city.

"There is a peculiar issue in the zoning ordinance as it relates to animals," City Manager Ron Neibert said. "The definition of a kennel is a residence with more than three cats or dogs. That makes it a kennel regardless of ownership."

The issue came to the attention of the city after Richard Hefner found out his family pets — beagles — put him in the position to be needing a permit for a kennel.

"I've had beagles since I lived here and that's been over 40 years," Hefner said. "I've never had any complaints, and didn't know there was a number on them. One had pups, which put it over the limit."

Hefner said he found out about the zoning issue when a cat situation arose in his neighborhood and someone called animal control.

"He was checking on the cats, and saw my dogs and stopped and counted my dogs," Hefner said. "That's when he made me aware of what was going on. I called Mr. Martin at the dog pound, and he said he had no problem with me having the dogs, there has never been a complaint. I take very good care of my dogs. ... Nobody has ever complained and we live in a neighborhood we've been there for years. ... These are registered beagle dogs and I hunt and field trial with them."

However, under existing zoning ordinances, it doesn't matter if the dogs or cats are family pets, or being boarded to qualify as a kennel.

"In many cases, the zoning ordinance now puts an owner of animals that wants to have more in a particular case to have to get a conditional use permit," Neibert said. "Mr. Hefner has five dogs. I am reviewing this and will probably make a recommendation to define a kennel as a commercial place to board animals. ... We will also have to address the number of animals and what is appropriate and what is not appropriate. ... If someone has 150 cats and/or dogs, we don't want that problem."

The city council has decided to deal with the issue of Hefner's request through revisions of the ordinance as it relates to kennels.

"We're not going to do anything about your dogs," Neibert told Hefner. "We're going to take care of it legislatively, so you can keep your dogs, either way."