What is Going On in Louisville, Kentucky?

I have been getting some emails from folks barking about what is passing in Louisville for a new set of dog ordinances. Would any Dogster...

Joy  |  Jan 3rd 2007


I have been getting some emails from folks barking about what is passing in Louisville for a new set of dog ordinances. Would any Dogster closer to the action there care to bark in and explain why the Louisville Metro Council feels its necessary to pass a tome of new laws aimed at dog owners? And why are the sides arranged according to political party?

Here are several articles from the Courier Journal.

The first one here ran on December 20th.

Metro Council adopts new dangerous-dog law

By Joseph Gerth
jgerth@courier-journal.com
The Courier-Journal

A new dangerous-dog law passed early Wednesday morning will make it easier for animal-control officers to do their jobs and shouldnt increase crowding at the citys animal shelter, the director of animal services said.

But Dr. Gilles Meloche said he doesnt know if hell need more officers to enforce the law, saying he would decide after it takes effect within three months.

When you have a better tool, you need less people, said Meloche.

The Louisville Metro Council debated the new animal ordinance for more than nine hours before finally adopting it, on a 16-8 vote, about 3:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Mayor Jerry Abramson likely will sign it, his spokeswoman, Allison Martin, said Wednesday.

Under the ordinance, dogs will have to be spayed or neutered unless their owners are willing to pay higher licensing fees. Unaltered dogs also must be kept on short leashes while away from home.

Owners of unaltered dogs cant depend on buried-wire electronic fences to keep them in the yard.

And if unaltered dogs are picked up by Animal Services for any reason, they must be spayed or neutered if their owners want them back.

Opponents were too upset to talk much after the meeting.

Meloche said among the most important provisions is a section that allows animal-control officers to cite pet owners based on their investigations.

Currently, officers must witness a violation before they can issue a citation.

Another provision, he said, should help in making sure dogs are properly licensed. Currently, about 15 percent of dogs are licensed in Louisville.

The new provision requires that veterinarians turn over copies of all vaccination certificates to government officials. Animal services can then compel those animal owners to comply with the licensing law.

Supporters said that the law wasnt exactly what they had wanted but that it was a good start.

It took a long time to get here,” said Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5th District.

The citys dog laws became an issue last year, after a 14-month-old girl was killed by her familys pit bull, and a short time later a 60-year-old man was killed by two dogs as he walked home from work.

Republicans offered more than 40 amendments and motions most of them defeated before they finally agreed to let the measure come for a vote. Although Democrats have a majority on the council, it took a two-thirds majority to call for the vote, which required some Republican votes.

Voting against the ordinance were Republicans Ken Fleming, Kevin Kramer, Kelly Downard, Julie Raque Adams, Stuart Benson, Robin Engel, Doug Hawkins and Ellen Call.

Hal Heiner was the only Republican to vote for it, along with all the Democrats. Republican Glen Stuckel abstained, and James Peden was out of town.

Hamilton originally wanted to ban pit bull dogs from the city but eventually relaxed her position. Late last week she agreed to abandon all special restrictions on them.

But Republicans were upset by the number of last-minute changes handed to them an hour and five minutes before the council was to consider the 94-page ordinance.

Democrats, who hold a majority of the council seats, thwarted several attempts by Republicans to delay a vote until next week or next month.

Mary Woolridge, D-3rd, one of the sponsors, said she would not agree to any delay. She argued that the council had been working on the ordinance for a year and that there had been enough discussion.

With that, Republicans began seeking amendment after amendment to the ordinance.

It took three hours to get through the first three pages of the ordinance.

By the time Downard, who led the GOP assault on the ordinance, gave in, the council had been through only about 40 pages less than half the ordinance and considered 43 amendments and motions.

Downard said he still had 87 more amendments to go but would try to address them early next year when the council members can hear from sportsmen, dog owners and others with a stake in the new law.

The night started with a full chamber of onlookers, and a nearby overflow room also was full.

By the time the final vote on the measure was taken, only 13 of them remained

Now, we see this piece asking the mayor to veto it because the Louisville Kennel Club is moving out of the city if the ordinance is adopted.

Mayor asked to veto dog ordinance
The Courier-Journal

Louisville Metro Council Republicans have asked Mayor Jerry Abramson to veto the citys new dangerous dog ordinance, which the council passed on Dec. 19.

Abramson, who has vetoed only one measure since he because the first mayor of Louisvilles merged city in 2003, has said he would probably sign the measure into law.

I dont think anything has been presented to him thus far that would lead him to believe the ordinance is fatally flawed, said Chad Carlton, Abramsons spokesman.

Republicans, in requesting the veto, said the ordinance would have an adverse economic impact on the city because the Louisville Kennel Club has threatened to move its annual dog show out of the city.

They also argue that it violates the rights of responsible dog owners” and that it possibly violates state law.

Carlton said Abramson hasnt received a copy of the ordinance and will consider those concerns when he reviews it.

And here is what the Louisville Kennel Club has posted on the American Kennel Club News site:

Friday, February 24, 2006]

The Louisville Metro Council Committee on Government Administration, Rules, Ethics, and Audit Agenda will meet at 4pm Monday, February 27th to discuss the proposed changes to the animal control ordinance. It is critical that fanciers and concerned dog owners contact their council members and ask them to oppose this measure. The American Kennel Club and the Louisville Kennel Club have sent letters of opposition to the metro council, but more help is needed. Participants are asked to arrive early as the Louisville Kennel Club will be providing attendees with red shirts to show solidarity in opposition to the provisions described below.

Proposed Louisville Animal Ordinance Endangers Dog OwnersFebruary 6, 2006

Help is urgently needed! The Louisville Metro Council will soon consider changes to its animal control ordinance that impose a number of burdensome fees, expensive licenses, and punitive restrictions that will be harmful to all dog owners.

It is unclear what problems this disjointed proposal attempts to solve. In fact, the provisions of this ordinance will create significant problems for responsible dog owners committed to socializing their animals. The proposal provides that an intact male dog can only be walked by an adult, and prohibits the animal from contact with other humans and dogs. Incredibly, the measure further prohibits a female and her litter from having contact with humans other than the owner until four months of age! The recent draft contains many such examples of regulations that prevent dog owners from acting responsibly.

Additionally, this restrictive measure would:

    Require an annual $57 license for each unaltered dog or cat over four months old.
    Define anyone who sells or gives away an animal as an “animal dealer” and require purchase of both an animal dealer license and a kennel license.
    Require persons with more than 5 altered animals to purchase a kennel license.
    Further require purchase of a kennel license by residents with less than 5 animals if they breed, show, or compete in field or obedience trials.
    Establish a $5 “show dog” fee for every dog participating in conformation that can not show proof of license in another jurisdiction.
    Specify that an animal may not be deemed dangerous solely because it bites or attacks.
    In applying for any animal dealer or kennel license, dog owners would be forced to comply with a long list of provisions, including submitting to property and record-keeping inspections. Breeders would also be required to report all sales and provide license tags to new owners.

As dog owners may recall, in late 2005, Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton introduced a breed-specific proposal targeting Rottweilers and “pit bulls,” defined as Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, or any dog which has the appearance and characteristics of these breeds. While AKC applauds the council’s decision to pursue strong dangerous dog and animal control legislation in lieu of a breed-specific ordinance, this proposal does nothing to address irresponsible ownership, makes it harder to declare a dog dangerous and places severe burdens on responsible dog owners.

From the dates on the AKC notices and the statements from the laws’ proponants, this fight seems to have been going on for a while.

Would anyone like to share their side of the story with the rest of us?