The Louisville Metro Public Health Committee is scheduled to consider changes to the city/county animal control ordinance during a special meeting tomorrow, June 2, 2021. While it features some reasonable and appropriate provisions, the proposed ordinance also includes certain vague and problematic dog care requirements. The American Kennel Club (AKC) encourages Louisville/Jefferson County residents to contact the members of the Public Safety Committee to express concerns.
AKC advocates that dog owners bear a special responsibility to their canine companions to provide proper care and humane treatment at all times. Proper care and humane treatment include an adequate and nutritious diet, clean water, safe and clean living and travel conditions, regular veterinary care, kind and responsive human companionship, and training in appropriate behavior.
Concerns include, but are not limited to:
- 090.C.1 would require a dog owner to maintain a shelter for a dog so that the dog shall be “free to walk” without coming in contact with waste or debris. AKC agrees that a dog house and enclosure should be cleaned of waste and debris; however, as currently written, the subsection is vague because it could be interpreted to require a dog owner to provide a dog house of such a large size so a dog could freely walk around inside it. This section is also vague regarding requirements for a dog’s shelter (i.e., dog house) versus requirements for a dog’s enclosure (i.e., yard or run). To clarify these provisions, AKC recommends amending the proposed subsection to state:
Any owner of an animal shall maintain an uncrowded, clean, dry, and healthful shelter and living area for such animal, which area shall be free of accumulated waste and debris so that the animal shall be free to walk can enter the shelter, turn around, or lie down without coming in contact with any such waste or debris.
- 090.C.3.(b) would not allow the use of round “igloo” style shelters and similar dog houses that are not configured with four sides. AKC recommends that use of appropriate shelters of other configurations shall also be acceptable.
- 090.C.3.(d) seeks to require owners to “prevent the accumulation of mud and/or water near the shelter.” “Near” is undefined, and therefore renders the section vague. AKC recommends this subsection be clarified.
- 090.D.1.b. does not define “living space,” “free flowing air,” or “circulating fresh air,” as related to a shelter or dog house, thereby making it difficult to determine requirements and compliance. AKC recommends this subsection be clarified.
- 090.D.2. seeks to base the determination of whether it is “safe for a dog or cat to be outdoors” during certain types of weather on the opinion of an “objectively reasonable person.” Sheltering requirements for an arctic breed, livestock guardian dog, properly conditioned working dog, police K9, herding dog, search and rescue dog, hunting dog, etc., are demonstrably different than requirements for a short-coated dog, a young puppy, or an aged/ill dog. This subsection also does not consider the effect of severe weather on the health of the individual dog, nor is enforcement based on a determination made by a qualified professional. Because provisions of proposed subsections 91.090.C.3.a and 91.090.D.1 serve to establish protections for dogs during severe weather, AKC recommends that 91.090.D.2 be stricken.
- Subject to certain conditions, a law enforcement or an animal control officer would be authorized to confiscate an animal if the owner fails to provide a proper outdoor shelter. Therefore, it is extremely important that requirements for the provision of shelter be clear, based in sound science, and appropriate for the individual animal. Further, enforcement should be based on probable cause as determined by a trained and knowledgeable law enforcement official that a violation has occurred.
The proposed ordinance also addresses animals left unattended in motor vehicles
As it is currently written, AKC supports proposed section 91.102, which seeks to authorize a first responder to remove an unattended animal in danger from a motor vehicle, subject to specific conditions and requirements. AKC advocates that no dog should be left in a vehicle if its comfort, health, and safety are in question. “Good Samaritan” legislation must provide a balanced approach that protects both the health and safety of dogs and the interests of responsible dog owners.
What you can do:
Animal owners with concerns about sections of the proposed ordinance are urged to contact members of the Public Safety Committee prior to their meeting on June 2 at 3:00 p.m. Public comment is not scheduled during the committee meeting.
Jessica Green, Chair, (502) 574-1101, Jessica.Green@louisvilleky.gov,
James Peden, Vice Chair, (502) 574-1123, James.Peden@louisvilleky.gov
Barbara Shanklin, (502) 574-1102, Barbara.Shanklin@louisvilleky.gov
Madonna Flood, (502) 574-1124, Madonna.Flood@louisvilleky.gov
Marilyn Parker, (502) 574-1118, Marilyn.Parker@louisvilleky.gov
Mark H. Fox, (502) 574-1113, Mark.Fox@louisvilleky.gov
Nicole George, (502) 574-1121, Nicole.George@louisvilleky.gov
Constituents can also send messages to council members via an online form.
AKC sent a letter to committee members and ordinance sponsors to express concerns and offer recommendations regarding certain sections of the proposed ordinance. AKC also thanked sponsors of the ordinance for their interest in the well-being of dogs and other animals.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-816-3720 for additional information.