Monday, June 26, 2006

Dog Days

One of the issues brought up at the tail end of the last council meeting was the number of dogs one should be allowed to have in town. This all stems from a valid complaint from a Paulann resident.

It seems that one of the residents is breeding dogs on their property and selling them over the internet. Don't remember the breed, but we are talking registered dogs that sell for several hundred dollars. It seems that these dogs are a constant source of irritation to the neighbors with their constant barking and horrible smell. It is also obvious that the dog breeders are running a business from their home that is inappropriate for residential neighborhoods. There are likely other problems as well. The people that brought the complaint have been trying for two years to resolve the problem with little help from the city government and with the helpful hint from the breeders "If you don't like it, move."

So far we know they are violating at least two city ordinances: the noise ordinance, and health code on animal waste. It is also doubtful that all 30 dogs in the back yard have the required licenses and vaccinations. There are zoning ordinances about the types of businesses being run in an RS1 residential area. There are plenty of legal tools to use to stop these breeders from bothering their neighbors and creating a health hazard. This doesn't include other possible civil remedies that the neighbors and possibly the local home owners association could take.

The proposal presented to council was to limit the total number of dogs a resident could have. I heard numbers suggested from 2 to 6 but I remain skeptical that this is a good solution. For two years, these breeders have been reported for violating at least 3 city ordinances, yet it is only recently that the city attorney has started moving forward. If code enforcement and other city officials can't enforce 3 ordinances, can they enforce 4 any better? Next, I know people that can't responsibly own 1 or 2 dogs. They let their dogs run the neighbor hood knocking over trash cans, tearing up property, barking all night and pretty much acting like Osama Bin Pitbull. I also know people that have lots of dogs but you never know it because they don't cause trouble in the neighborhood. These people take care of their dogs well because they care about their neighbors and their pets.

This seems to be a case of Deja Vu. In January we had a similar issue about trash. We were told by code enforcement that there were scofflaws out there that just moved junk from one piece of property they owned to another, and code enforcement needed to have some mandatory escalating fines in order to force these people to comply. At the February 7th Council meeting, Judge Gilbert gave the actual numbers. Of the 38 cases of failure to comply with an abatement order, only 2 were repeat offenders. It was also noted that the ordinance and fines were against the property owner, and not the location as they had been led to believe. The need for the mandatory fines was seen to be unnecessary, and the issue was tabled indefinitely.

This seems to be a similar case. We have city officials that are feeling the heat because of a problem that has been ongoing for at least two years. They are complaining they don't have the tools they need to do the job when the plain evidence is that they have not really used the tools they have very well at all. We already have plenty of laws on the books to make and keep neighborhood clean and livable. Lets use them effectively instead of adding another one to be ignored as well.

1 comment:

  1. I have been on the dirty end of this stick. I am currently wasting $8.35 a month on the trash portion of my water bill. I have a neighbor with two mid-size dogs who leaves them in an unsecure fence, and at night they delight in skinning under the fence and strewing trash up and down the alley. I was out doing yard work when someone else called in one loose hound. The animal control pickup shows up and the guy with the hoop approaches the barking dog, but he couldn't quite get the hoop on it until the lady steps out her back door, and the dog scampers back under the fence. He only asked if the dog was hers, and loaded up to leave. I was told the dog was secure, the incident was over.

    If I put my trash in a can with a wire hoop on the fence, Trashaway won't deal with the extra trouble. If I don't use the wire hoop, Trashaway doesn't have to bother, since my trash is now litter up and down the alley. Fortunately, I have a former employer who lets me use his dumpster for my household trash.

    As to the bad dogs written of by Perry Flippen, I do not carry knives on me because I fancy myself as Crocodile Dundee. I was attacked by an 85 pound Coonhound many years ago and lived because I fed him my left arm while I strangled him. Two dogs and one hopes one has a weapon in reach.

    More recently, I had a neighbor who thought it appropriate to have 70 some fighting cocks in a residential area. Having nothing more interesting to do, they engaged in incessant crowing contests, 3:00 AM being a favorite time. The police didn't care for the job and referred me to animal control. Animal control lost interest when I admitted the birds were physically confined, and referred me to code enforcement. Code enforcement actually came out and measured 100 Ft from my fence and made him move the birds to the other side of his yard, which did nothing to ameliorate the racket. That episode only ended when a nameless neighbor killed half the roosters one morning and Colonel Sanders moved his flock to healthier confines in Grape Creek.

    My point in all this is that the city has done a poor job of animal control. I don't care if my neighbor has two pups or twenty hounds, as long as they stay quiet at night and their waste doesn't make sitting in the porch swing unpleasant. There are laws already in place to deal with this, they go unused. The lady with the trash-strewing mutt should have been cited and fined, which might have encouraged her to fix her fence. Colonel Sanders should have been told that ordnance requires a 100 ft. distance from ANY house, not just the complainants, which would have moved the chicken ranch out of town where it belonged. I leave to the reader's imagination why a man would maintain 70 some roosters, since cock-fighting is illegal in Texas, but it weren't for the eggs.