Sylvania City Council's zoning and annexation committee has decided to recommend no changes to a city law that permits homeowners to have up to three dogs.
During an hour-long hearing Monday evening, committee Chairman Doug Haynam told Jean Keating, whose provision of foster homes for dogs prompted a neighborhood complaint in July, that her neighbors believed she had impaired their enjoyment of their properties and thus council had no burden to change the city law.
Ms. Keating, who fosters dogs for the Lucas County Pit Crew -- a non-profit organization she founded that provides temporary homes, pending adoption, of "pit bulls" and other rescue animals -- had lobbied council to abolish a portion of the city code pertaining to kennels that places a three-dog limit in residential and non-industrial business zones.
Mr. Haynam said any place in the city with four or more dogs is considered a kennel, which is not permitted in residential zoning.
Zoning administrator Bob Oberly said he had visited Ms. Keating's home twice in June based on a complaint regarding dogs jumping on the fence, noise, and odor. She wasn't home at the time and he advised later by phone about city law pertaining to kennels. Ms. Keating told The Blade that she had nine dogs in her home at the time, three were her licensed pets and six were adopted later.
However, Ms. Keating said she believes dogs are property and if one can effectively manage to care for them, the government does not have the right to place limits.
“I think this is cut-and-dried. I don’t have a say about how many kids, guns, or cats people can have,” she said after the committee's decision to let the law stand.
She said she cleans her yard of feces daily, and that the constant barking was from a neighbor's dog, since she places the dogs in crates inside her home when she works or is away.
Others who were in favor of changing the law, and have been active in dog rescue or fostering activities, sat in the council chambers wearing T-shirts that showed their support for animal care.
Ms. Keating questioned how the city could restrict animal ownership, when there is an Animals and Fowls Code that addresses animal nuisances and safety to neighbors.
“What one person thinks is proper care another person may not agree,” Mr. Haynam said.
Ms. Keating replied that dogs are property, and “you’re limiting what I can own.”
Mr. Haynam agreed with that statement, saying residents do not have unlimited property rights, especially when the property may infringe on another person's peace and quiet.
“We have a lot of people living in close proximity to one another, and we have rules and ordinances in place to keep the peace,” he said, adding that establishing a dog limit at three per household is an objective way to maintain peace citywide.
Afterward Ms. Keating said she would continue to carry out her animal fostering activities and challenge the city code in court if necessary.
Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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