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Animal ordinance gets another look

Superior is taking a new approach to allow some pet owners to license more than three dogs.

Under current city law, people can have up to three dogs and three cats.

That creates a dilemma for responsible pet owners who want more than three dogs when it comes time to license them.

While the License and Fees Committee had recommended a change in the city ordinances to allow people to decide for themselves what combination of dogs and cats they preferred, up to six animals.

The change didn't sit well with the Council, and the ordinance was sent back to the drawing board to search for alternatives.

The problem the city's animal control officer, Mandy Hammer, is running into is that there are some very good owners who have more than three dogs, but the city's existing ordinance only allows three of them to be licensed, City Clerk Terri Kalan said.

"Six dogs in a small area, that's a lot of dogs, that's a lot of animals," said Councilor Jack Sweeney, a member of the License and Fees Committee. "I don't know about six cats ... but six dogs in a 50-foot lot, that can be a lot."

"We don't need six dogs when people are having trouble with three," Marge Kaptonak of Superior told the committee.

She said in her neighborhood in the city's 6th District, many lots aren't any wider than 25 feet and many only have a small patch to call a backyard. Barking dogs, feces on the sidewalks and having to walk in the street to avoid nipping dogs are common occurrences that would only be made worse if people were allowed to have six dogs.

Sweeney said it would be unreasonable to have six dogs on a 25-foot lot.

Councilor Brent Fennessey said he doesn't favor an ordinance that would allow six dogs in a household because while some people could control and care for six dogs that's not the case for the majority of people.

"I love dogs and I know I couldn't take care of six of them," Fennessey said. "I couldn't control six of them. I couldn't pick up after six of them. And that's exactly why the ordinance is in place, to prevent that."

Still he said just because he or the average person couldn't handle that many dogs, it doesn't mean the city shouldn't make exceptions for those who can.

"I think of the sled dogs on 21st, and I don't know of how many times I drive by and he's throwing the ball for those dogs. When dogs are exercised, they don't bark as much. He's there grooming them all the time. The care that he puts into those dogs. It's somebody like that who should be able to have six dogs."

Fennessey suggested additional rules and enforcement such as annual site inspections for those who want to keep more than three dogs.

Councilor Esther Dalbec suggested looking at a kennel license for those special circumstances.

"I like the idea of them having to be checked on ... and they are doing it for a purpose," Dalbec said.

Hammer said that it would be a good idea to have a guideline to follow, like the kennel inspections she currently conducts for local businesses.

Kalan said she surveyed clerks in other communities in Wisconsin, and most limited the number of dogs to three, like Superior, but did allow more with approval.

"There should be a legal way for the exception like the huskies," Kalan said.

The panel approved moving ahead with developing a kennel license for multiple dog ownership. Kalan and Hammer will work on the ordinance to be considered by the committee when it meets again. The committee will hold a special meeting to consider the ordinance once a draft is available.

Hammer said with the kennel license involved, she would be able to conduct inspections to ensure the dogs are properly cared for.

"It could be ready for next year," Kalan said.