2017-11-12 / News

STC Council struggles with animal ordinance

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

VILLAGE OF ST. CHARLES – During the Wednesday, Nov. 8 meeting, the St. Charles Village Council struggled over changes proposed to the animal ordinance and sent the proposed ordinance back to the planning commission for changes.

At the start of the council discussion, Village President Marie Roe explained to the audience that the council would be discussing, but not voting on, the dog ordinance during the meeting. She explained that the village has to publish ordinances before holding a public hearing.

Councilwoman Diana Kutz, who serves on the planning commission, said, “This was very difficult to do. I definitely would like people’s input. A couple of planning commission members didn’t want to do anything, due to the lack of enforcement of the existing [animal control] ordinance.”

Councilman Jim McPhail asked Kutz how the planning commission came up with a three-dog limit.

Kutz said, “We did some research. There is some confusion. If you have three dogs and are breeding them then selling them, you have a kennel.” She explained if a dog owner has two females that are not neutered, the puppies can be given away, but not sold. Then it’s not a kennel.

McPhail said, “I know you worked hard on this.” He explained the way the proposed ordinance is currently written, he could go get three dogs that are pregnant and raise litters and litters of puppies for as long as the two females live.

Kutz acknowledged that the planning commission was not in agreement on the language.

McPhail said, “We’ve had complaints from the same group of people for about three years.” He asked whether the issues had gone to court.

Village manager Matthew Lane said there hasn’t been any court action.

Kutz said, “When these dogs start barking, they start a chain of barking dogs all over town.”

McPhail suggested, “We pick a number and stick with it.”

Lane said, “We’re not talking about inanimate objects here.”

McPhail commented, “When you’ve got 30 dogs in your yard [you’ve got to get rid of some].”

Roe said, “It’s not that easy when you’ve got pets you’ve had. It’s not going to be feasible.”

McPhail said, “There are rules in the village. If it affects your neighbor, dogs barking, or smell, or a dog peeing on your fence until the wood rots.”

Kutz said, “We do permit kennels in R1-A zoning with a special use permit.”

McPhail said, “Who is going to enforce this stuff? I really don’t agree to creating a law to cover a law that’s not being enforced. We’ve got rules. There should have been fines. The 14 years it takes for a dog to die off is too long for neighbors to wait.”

Police Chief Allen Rabideau said, “Our main goal is to get loose dogs back with families.”

Lane said Facebook has made it easy to reunite families with loose dogs.

McPhail asked about the issue of following up on barking complaints.

Lane explained if they can’t recreate the experience that caused the complaint, it’s difficult to enforce.

Neumann suggested the ordinance specify a limit of three dogs, with no attrition; give them a year to come into compliance.

Lane suggested reducing the attrition problem by setting a time frame.

Councilwoman Diane Dennis said, “This has already been going on for three years.”

Council members didn’t agree on the changes needed to the animal ordinance. The council asked the planning commission to revise the ordinance to address their concerns, particularly in the area of attrition.

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