Dozens bark at mayor about new dog law
By Joseph Gerth
Nearly 200 people showed up at Mayor Jerry Abramson’s monthly town meeting Tuesday night — most of them to tell him they don’t like Louisville’s new dog ordinance.
A group of dog lovers paid for advertisements on a radio station to urge dog enthusiasts to attend the meeting in the auditorium at Moore High School.
For an hour and a half Abramson fielded questions about the new law from people who stood in line to query him or berate him.
Then he stood before a group of about 80 people for 45 additional minutes, answering questions thrown at him.
One woman told him the new law would require her to report to Metro Animal Services and get approval if her unaltered dog was to spend more than three nights away from home.
“I will go on record that that is an unreasonable thing,” Abramson responded.
Jackie Gulbe, a spokeswoman for Animal Services, said the ordinance could be interpreted that way but that her agency would not do so — and would not require such approval.
Abramson also said some Metro Council members already are working on amending the ordinance to rescind a provision requiring that all impounded dogs be spayed or neutered.
He said he expects other amendments to follow.
Abramson reiterated his comments in recent weeks that the law would be enforced using common sense.
But Pam Sweiss, who raises American Staffordshire terriers, a type of dog commonly referred to as a pit bull, wasn’t pleased.
She said the law should be changed rather than ignored by enforcement officers.
“I’ve always been legal,” Sweiss said. “I don’t want to be a little bit illegal.”
The ordinance gives animal control officers additional investigative powers and increases licensing fees for dogs.
It also limits the number of dogs people can keep outdoors on lots of less than two acres, and sets higher licensing fees for dogs and cats that have not been spayed or neutered.
In the nearly 100 pages of the ordinance, there are dozens of new provisions that didn’t appear in the old animal law.
Melody Smith complained that she has four mixed-breed dogs and that she would be required to decide which one to get rid of, since her property is just shy of one-half acre.
The law limits has a limit of three outdoor dogs on lots that size.
“I can’t see how my having four dogs gets at the problem they were trying to address,” Smith said.
James and Barbara Russell, however, came to thank Abramson for signing the ordinance.
The Russells, who live near the Bullitt County line, told him they have a neighbor with a St. Bernard that barks incessantly.
James Russell blamed the dog for his wife’s heart attack and other problems.
“All I really want is a peace and quiet I’m entitled to,” he said.
Reporter Joseph Gerth can be reached at (502) 582-4702.