DISPELLING THE MYTHS RELATING TO LMCO CHAPTER 91 “ANIMALS”

 

MYTH:  No animals can be sold without a $300 Animal Dealer’s license

FACT:  The Animal Dealer definition in § 91.001 only pertains to people engaging in the business of buying/selling for the purpose of resale to pet shops, research facilities, other dealers, including flea markets or booths.  It does not pertain to a sale between individual citizens of their pets.

 

MYTH:  Horseracing, hunting and field trials, police-dog demonstrations, tracking, herding, obedience and agility competitions, and livestock exhibits fall under the Circus and/or Theatrical Exhibition provisions, requiring a special permit.

FACT:  The definition of Circus and Theatrical Exhibitions in § 91.001 pertain to variety shows featuring performing animals, or animal acts.  None of the above would fit within these definitions.

 

MYTH:  Dangerous animals include pets such as mice, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, goats, rabbits, llamas and swine, and may not be kept at all.

FACT:  The definition of “dangerous animal” has been removed.  All allowable animals are defined within this ordinance, from livestock, to poultry, to domestic animals, and certain wildlife.  Any animal not addressed will be excluded from provisions for ownership, but no animal will be declared “dangerous” per se, other than those set forth in the ordinance.

 

MYTH:  Beekeeping is not allowed in Louisville Metro under this Ordinance.

FACT:  The provision of Section 91.008 relating to insects has not changed since before governmental merger.  This provision prohibits the keeping of venomous or poisonous insects only; bees would not fall within this category.

 

MYTH:  The Director of Metro Animal Services may promulgate regulations that have the full force and effect of law, without review.

FACT:  As with most ordinances, the department director has the discretion to implement policies/regulations to carry out the provisions of the ordinance.  However, as set forth in § 91.050 this is carried out under the approval of the Cabinet Secretary, and may not be inconsistent with any legal provision of the Chapter.

 

MYTH:  The Director shall decide if, and under what conditions you may reclaim an impounded dog.

FACT:  The Director may only impose discretionary terms and conditions for release that are in the greater interest of the public’s safety and welfare, in accordance with § 91.035(E), and then only if the dog was impounded due to either (1) deliberately facilitating an illegal act or (2) having been declared a dangerous or potentially-dangerous dog and whose owner has not complied with all the requirements of the chapter for owning such a dog.

 


 

MYTH:  Appeals made to the Secretary of Public Works cannot be appealed to any court.

FACT:  All decisions may be appealed to a court of competent jurisdiction, as per Kentucky Constitutional law and common law.   However, for clarity, the sections detailing the Secretary’s actions now have a provision stating that the decisions are appealable to a court of competent jurisdiction. 

 

MYTH:  Metro Animal Services may impound your dog if someone is offended by the way it looks.

FACT:  In accordance with the Nuisance definition of § 91.001, if an animal is maintained in an unsanitary condition, this provision would be triggered.  However, the provision relating to “offensive to sight or smell” has been removed from the latest draft amendment, for clarity.

 

MYTH:  If an individual’s dog barks or is dirty on two separate occasions, and a nuisance citation is issued, the individual can be prohibited from owning pets for two years.

FACT:  Conviction (not simply citation) of a violation for a Nuisance, as defined in § 91.001 may subject an owner to a civil fine, and/or prosecution for a Class B misdemeanor (for first conviction) or a Class A misdemeanor (for second or subsequent conviction).  Impoundment as defined within § 91.035 is not authorized for nuisance violations; the prohibition against further pet ownership relates to violations that result in impoundment.

 

MYTH:  An individual can be fined for removing an animal’s collar during a veterinarian’s visit.

FACT:  This provision was misinterpreted and allowed only the owner or agent to remove a collar, but the provision has been changed, for clarification, that now states the animal must wear its rabies tags on its collar, unless seeking medical treatment or participating in a show.

 

MYTH:  A recent Ohio case has declared breed-specific legislation unconstitutional.

FACT:  In City of Toledo v. Tellings, 2006 WL 513946 (Ohio App. 6th Dist.), the Court held that the statute was unconstitutional as applied in the case at hand, because the “vicious dog” law was too vague in its description of the breeds to be classified as a “vicious dog,” and the city ordinance that labelled the dog as “vicious” did not allow for due process, because the owner was unable legally to refute that presumption.  In contrast, the proposed amendments to the Louisville Metro ordinance is very specific in its description of both the breeds that have restrictions, and in its processes for challenging the provisions of the ordinance.

 

MYTH:  A dog must be kept 15 feet from all public rights-of-way.

FACT:  There is no ordinance providing for this restriction.

 


 

MYTH:  “Targeted” breeds must be spayed or neutered.

FACT:  No animals are mandated to be spayed or neutered.  No breeds are “banned.”  However, unaltered animals face greater restrictions under the ordinance.

 

MYTH:  Dogs cannot be tethered during the day at all.

FACT:  Only fixed-point chains or tethering is prohibited between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.  Those forms of tethering that allow the dog to move about more freely, such as pulleys or trolley systems are allowed during those hours.  A provision has been added to the proposed amendments that will allow one hour of fixed-point tethering during hours other than those prohibited.

 

MYTH:  Bona-fide farming operations cannot be limited by the language of the ordinance, because KRS 413.072 does not permit the restriction.

FACT:  The referenced statute only relates to agricultural uses with regard to classification as a nuisance.  The provisions in the ordinance cited with regard to the Myth do not relate to this limited usage.

 

MYTH:  A citation may be issued to a physically-impaired person solely for the reason that he/she may not be able to physically control/restrain a service animal.

FACT:  The definition of Restraint states that a dog must be under the control of a person who must be physically able to control the dog.  However, a service animal, due to its training, should be able to be physically-restrained by its owner, in conjunction with verbal commands, or it would not be in such service.

 

 

OTHER MISCONCEPTIONS CLARIFIED: