Animal groups move events
Actions prompted by new Louisville law
By Joseph Gerth
Louisville stands to lose more than $6 million in convention business unless the Metro Council changes its new animal law, the head of the convention bureau said yesterday.
Two animal groups have already moved their events out of the city and more could follow, said Jim Wood, president of the Greater Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Louisville Kennel Club canceled its "puppy match" last weekend, and the Dimes and Dollars Cat Club canceled its cat show last month.
Four other dog shows and a cat show are considering canceling events, and the American Rabbit Breeders National Convention is holding off signing a contract for its 2008 convention until changes are made, Wood said.
"We clearly support public safety," Wood said in an interview after he addressed the council last night. "But there needs to be more clarity to reassure the community."
The council adopted the ordinance Dec. 19 -- on a 16-8 vote nearly along partisan lines -- despite concerns from veterinarians, the Louisville Kennel Club and other groups of animal owners who opposed it.
Among other things, the ordinance raised fees for people who own dogs -- especially dogs that are not spayed or neutered -- and for people who sell animals.
It calls for keeping dangerous dogs behind tall fences and gives animal control officers more authority to investigate dogs accused of viciousness or misbehavior.
It requires that any dogs impounded by animal services be spayed or neutered before they are returned to owners, and that all dogs not spayed or neutered be kept on 4-foot leashes.
Some council members have said they plan to make changes in the ordinance -- particularly what they call common sense changes that would strike the two requirements relating to impounded dogs and 4-foot leashes.
Council member Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9th District, said she plans to create a work group with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats to work out a compromise on about 10 issues that they deem most important.
Ward-Pugh said Republican Councilmen Kevin Kramer and Kelly Downard have agreed to serve on the work group with her and two other Democrats -- Cheri Bryant Hamilton, who sponsored the ordinance, and Tom Owen.
Ward-Pugh said she hasn't talked to the third Republican whom she will ask to serve.
Tim Tingle, of the Kentucky State Rabbit Breeders Association, said members of his group are concerned that their animals could be seized by animal control officers while they are in Louisville, and that $300 pet-seller permits are too expensive for people attending the convention when the average rabbit sells for $20 or $25.
Norm Auspitz of the Cat Fanciers Association called the ordinance "anti-cat, anti-animal" and said his group was looking to move future events to Lexington or another Kentucky city.
Meanwhile, he said the group is urging visitors to stay in Indiana or Bullitt County -- only coming into the city for events at a two-day show later this year.
Wood said in an interview that more than anything, the groups want clarity in a confusing ordinance.
Hamilton said she is happy to consider changes in the ordinance "if they are legitimate."
Also at yesterday's meeting, a resolution supporting a measure in the Kentucky General Assembly to name Interstate 65 through Jefferson County in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was introduced.
Also introduced were two ordinances designed to set limits on constables. One newly elected constable has been writing tickets, making arrests and appointing deputies -- all without any police training.
Reporter Joseph Gerth can be reached at (502) 582-4702.