Efforts to put a little more bite in the county's animal control ordinance could create "some real battles" with pet owners, County Commissioner Malcolm Beck said Wednesday.
Beck made the comment during a commission discussion about proposed animal-ordinance changes, one of which would limit pet owners in unincorporated areas to two dogs and two cats older than three months.Under the new ordinance, those who wish to own more than two dogs and two cats would have to purchase a kennel or hobby-breeder license.
Hobby breeders would be allowed up to five dogs provided they meet certain requirements, including licensing of the animals. Kennel operators face several requirements under the existing ordinance.
Exceptions also would be allowed for farmers who may have legitimate use for more than two dogs and cats.
"You're going to have some problems with this one," Beck told Rex Murdock, county animal regulation coordinator. Added Commissioner Sid Sandberg, "Personally, I think some folks in the unincorporated area may not think it's such a good idea."
Commissioners have postponed a vote on the ordinance pending further study and public input.
Murdock said proposed changes in the existing ordinance are similar to municipal ordinances throughout the county, and mirror ordinances nationwide. Salt Lake, Weber and Davis counties have ordinances with similar restrictions, he said.
Deputy County Attorney Michael Mack said proposed ordinance changes, if approved, won't require residents in unincorporated areas to give up pets if they already have more than two dogs and cats.
"Basically, if they had them before, they'll be entitled to keep them."
Mack said a law limiting pet ownership would be difficult to enforce. Animal control officers "aren't just going to go around looking for people who have more than two dogs or two cats," he said.
But the ordinance would enable the county to levy fines when violations by pet owners generate complaints. Murdock said the ordinance would be especially useful in addressing the county's cat population..
"They're becoming more and more of a problem," he said.
The ordinance also includes sections prohibiting ownership of wild animals and venomous snakes, and makes ownership of a vicious animal "unlawful unless it is restrained, confined or muzzled so that it cannot bite or attack any person or animal."
Copies of the proposed ordinance may be reviewed at the county clerk's office in the new government center.