Keego adopts dangerous animal ordinance
Posted December 9, 2010
KEEGO HARBOR — The City Council laid down the law for the animal kingdom at a Nov. 18 meeting.
With a 4-0 vote, the Keego council voted to adopt a new dangerous and exotic animal ordinance that lays out rules for pet owners. Councilman Joel Yoder was absent for the vote.
City Attorney Tom Ryan said the ordinance is designed to protect the public’s health and safety while giving animal owners due process when a creature is officially suspected of being dangerous or potentially dangerous.
In drafting the newly amended ordinance, Ryan said, he borrowed ideas from other cities’ ordinances.
“This ordinance, not to reinvent the wheel, it comes form the various parts of different ordinances: Waterford Township, Sylvan Lake, Farmington Hills,” he said. “Language that has been court-tested and whatnot.”
Unlike Sylvan Lake’s recently passed dangerous animal ordinance, the Keego Harbor law is not breed-specific and doesn’t target or ban pit bull terriers.
According to the ordinance, one main definition of a dangerous animal is one that has caused serious injury to a person or other domesticated animal. However, it exempts animals that are provoked or that are performing proper guarding activities.
In contrast, a potentially dangerous animal is one that has caused a minor injury or has aggressively chased people or pets.
“You can possess these animals in the city, but if you have such an animal, you have to take certain steps to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare,” Ryan said.
An enforcement officer can respond to a public complaint to check whether an animal is dangerous or potentially dangerous. If the officer believes that an animal fits one of these categories, the owner can contest that before an animal review board.
All dangerous animals must be properly registered with the city for a $50 annual fee, and the animal’s home must contain a minimum 6-foot-high enclosure and a warning sign. The law also contains regulations on leashes and muzzling while the creature is outdoors. In addition, the owner must possess liability insurance of at least $1 million and complete an animal obedience class, Ryan said.
Although the law is not breed-specific for common pets, it does ban people from owning exotic and rare animals, such as poisonous reptiles and spiders, elephants and chimpanzees. The exceptions are very narrow, such as for a caretaker of an injured animal with a state permit.
“We just don’t have the size, the space and the ability,” Ryan said. “These aren’t domesticated animals as such, and they just don’t work well with people, if you will, or other animals.”
Unlike the previous month when the animal issue came up, no one from the audience volunteered to speak during public comment. Councilman Eric Gubka called the ordinance’s final draft “very fair.”
“I was very adamant about not being breed-specific,” he said. “It’s got to be the owner that takes responsibility for this.”
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