Thursday, Oct 19, 2017
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Sylvania asked to revise dog restrictions

Resident says 3-animal limit hinders rescue groups working from home


Jean Keating embraces her dogs Milo, 4, center, Wendy, 3, left, and Chief, 8 months old. Ms. Keating says she would like to foster more dogs but can’t because of limits placed by a city ordinance.

The Blade/Katie Rausch
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A Sylvania resident is putting pressure on the city to revise its zoning code that places limits on how many dogs can be kept on a residential property.

Resident Jean Keating questioned council recently on why she was told by Bob Oberly, zoning administrator, that she was in violation of a city ordinance limiting the number of dogs on a residential property. She told council she wanted limits on dogs removed from the code.

“I think dogs are considered property, and people should have as many as they can care for," she told council at a recent meeting.

Ms. Keating owns three licensed dogs, and also fosters dogs for the Lucas County Pit Crew, a nonprofit organization she founded that carries out the adoption of “pit bulls” and rescue dogs. When Mr. Oberly visited her home in June, she had nine dogs on the property, three of which were puppies she eventually found a home for, she said.

She said Mr. Oberly told her a neighbor complained about one of the dogs jumping on the fence and shaking it, and thus would need to remove one of the foster dogs from her property to be in compliance with the code. Ms. Keating's back yard is enclosed by a six-foot high wooden fence.

However, it was not clear which code she was potentially violating. After reviewing the city’s codes with a lawyer, she found an ordinance that prohibited kennels in residential districts. Councilman Doug Haynam said the code defines kennels as any lot or premise where four dogs are kept, more than four months old.

“Why do we need this? I could effectively manage eight or 10 dogs on my property,” she asked, pointing to the city’s Animals and Fowl Code that addresses animal nuisances and safety to neighbors.

Mr. Haynam wrote The Blade explaining that the “current code does not have a ‘dog limit’ per se, but rather a three-dog limit in residential and nonindustrial business areas.” The city’s code only allows a kennel in light or heavy industrial districts.

Rather than limiting how many dogs a resident can have, she said the city should be looking to the codes in place that ensure pets do not infringe on nearby homeowners. The code addresses how animals should be treated, fed, and how their feces should be properly removed and discarded, Mr. Haynam said.

Mayor Craig Stough said that he recognized the difference between someone caring for dogs, such as Ms. Keating, and someone selling dogs out of their home.

Ms. Keating said that there are many people in Sylvania who work with local rescue organizations to foster dogs to good health, who abide by the animals and fowl code.

Ms. Keating said the number of dogs she has fluctuates because of emergency situations, such as newborn puppies that need a place before being adopted or the health of a dog might be an issue if it requires longer care.

She said since she has been reprimanded by the city, she has only her three dogs on the property. However, if the limit were removed she said she would have about six dogs total at this time.

The Zoning and Annexation Committee will review the codes, and also research what other nearby cities use to define kennels. They also asked Ms. Keating to submit ideas for a revised ordinance.

The issue will be revisited at a Zoning and Annexation Committee meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 19.

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