Animal-control code OK’d by Crestwood aldermen

More changes can be made if necessary, Mayor Robinson says

By BURKE WASSON

In response to citizens’ concerns, the Crestwood Board of Aldermen last week approved a revised animal-control code that addresses many of the issues raised by residents.

Specifically, the new animal-control code will keep many pet-license fees at or near their current levels, remove the previously proposed requirement for pet owners to spay or neuter their animals and stipulate that the city’s animal control officer must have residents’ permission for pet owners to spay or neuter their animals and stipulate that the city’s animal- control officer must have residents’ permission to enter their homes.

The revised animal-control code was unanimously approved April 10.

City Administrator Frank Myers said the resulting revisions to the animal-control code were a combination of input from both city staff and those of residents who attended a Feb. 22 town-hall meeting tailored toward the previously proposed animal-control code.

“This complete rewrite of the animal-control code is the culmination of a lot of hard work by our public-services staff and the Animal Control Board with considerable input by the mayor, the Board of Aldermen and our citizens,” Myers said.

Mayor Roy Robinson also noted that if future complaints arise about the city’s animal-control code, it always can be amended.

“If you find something that is not right or needs to be updated or it needs to be changed, tonight’s not the final word forever,” Robinson said. “This is getting it into the books. And if we see something or the citizens bring to our attention that something is too restrictive or something is not restrictive, we can always come back and amend the ordinance and help solve the problems.”

The city’s animal-control code originally was developed in 1965 and had not been updated since 1991.

The only fee changes to the new animal-control code are pet-license fees increasing from $1 to $2, rescue organizations now being required to pay $150 for a license and the impoundment fee for animals that have not been spayed or neutered increasing from $15 to $100. That impoundment fee can be cut to $50 if the pet owner then agrees to have the animal spayed or neutered.

Robinson has said although he originally was opposed to the idea of charging a $150 permit fee to rescue organizations, he believes it is now necessary to prevent such organizations from unlawfully owning such rescued animals.

The revised animal-control code will also limit such rescue organizations to keeping up to eight animals per household.

And after previously being proposed for major fee hikes, annual fees for non-commercial kennel and cattery licenses will stay at their current level of $10, fees for commercial kennel and cattery licenses will remain at $50 and sportsman’s permits will be kept at $10.

Under the Animal Control Board’s original proposal in November to aldermen, non-commercial kennels would have been charged $150 per year for a license and annual fees for commercial kennel and cattery licenses would have been $250.

According to the city’s current animal-control code, a kennel or cattery is defined as any residence that has more than three animals.

As the costs for most of these permits are proposed to remain the same, city officials have indicated that aldermen will reconsider the levels of fees for permits after the newly approved animal-control code has been in place for one year.

All permits in Crestwood require review by city staff members, a hearing before the Animal Control Board and inspection of facilities by city staff.

The new fee increases were proposed to keep up with staff time needed for the city’s animal-control services.

Besides changes in permit fees, city officials have revised the animal-control officer’s right-of-entry authority, which some residents had previously said was in violation of their constitutional rights.

Under the newly approved code, the animal-control officer would now require a resident’s permission to enter a home or property to collect an animal. If that permission is not granted, the animal-control officer would be required to go before a judge and obtain a court order before entering the home.

If a court order is granted, the animal-control officer legally would be allowed to enter a home and would be required to be accompanied by a police officer.

And after previously proposing a requirement that non-purebred animals over the age of 12 months be spayed or neutered, city officials have removed all mandates for spaying and neutering animals from the animal-control code.

The previous requirement to spay and neuter all non-purebred animals over the age of 12 months was originally proposed to cut down on the number of stray animals.

The new animal-control code will now also allow the tethering, or tying, of animals. Tethering now will be allowed for a limited time as long as the pet’s “owner is on the premises and the animal is not creating a nuisance.”