Superior's Council is considering a change to its ordinances to allow flexibility in pet ownership.
Under current city regulations, residents can have up to three dogs and three cats, but poisonous reptiles, dog hybrids that are part wolf, and other dangerous or carnivorous wild and exotic animals are prohibited.
The proposed changes would allow people to apply for an exemption to exceed the limits on cats and dogs, or allow individuals to possess an animal prohibited by city code. Applications would be evaluated by the animal control officer and chief of police, or designee, to determine if the exemption is permissible.
The city's license and fees committee had previously considered allowing people to have up to six animals, but concerns were raised that people with small lots in crowded neighborhoods could become problematic in the city.
"If they want more than three, then they have to be investigated to see if they are qualified and able to take care of it," Councilor Esther Dalbec said. "That's the difference."
If a person is going to have numerous dogs, they would need a decent sized yard, preferably fenced because dogs tend to tangle together, Humane Officer Mandy Hammer said. She said renters would have to get permission from their landlords and the application would have to be approved by her office and the police chief.
At the time the application is submitted, the applicant must provide a photocopy of their driver's license or photo ID, all veterinary record from the past year and the pets must be current on required vaccinations, provide proof dogs have current animal licenses. A statement to the humane officer about why the permit is being sought is also required. The application requires people to list the number of animals they desire and the breeds.
Hammer said that's because four 160-pound mastiffs would have different needs than four 12-pound pekingese.
"The number isn't the final determinate," Councilor Jack Sweeney said.
Hammer said the city will also take veterinarian records into consideration to determine whether an applicant is a responsible pet owner.
Neighbors would also have a chance to weigh in on the matter.
Hammer said in Green Bay, Wis., where she found the model for the application, police hand out letters to the neighboring homes.
"People have a right to say they don't want their neighbor having seven dogs," Hammer said.
"They take those letters into consideration. Sometimes they just say they don't like dogs. Well, that's not a valid reason not to let your neighbors have dogs."
Location matters as well.
City Clerk Terry Kalan said in a neighborhood like Butler Park where its zoned suburban, which requires five acres to develop, having more dogs wouldn't be the same issue as having them in neighborhood with smaller lot sizes.
"A congested neighborhood would affect me," Dalbec said. "I wouldn't want my next door neighbor to have six dogs. ... The people would decide pretty much, I think."
Superior's License and Fees Committee recommended approving the ordinance change Monday, May 13.
The Council considers the ordinance change at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, in Room 201 of the Government Center.