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Board approves animal control ordinance changes to align with county regulations

By: Joshua Gordon | Shelby - Utica News | Published June 25, 2018

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Shelby Township Board of Trustees recently approved an amendment to the township’s animal control ordinance to make it more in line with Macomb County’s similar ordinance.

The changes to the ordinance were brought up first at the June 5 meeting and unanimously approved to be published at the June 19 meeting. The amendment comes in the wake of an issue in April where Shelby Township police removed more than 20 dogs from a home.

“We have been working with the Macomb County Animal Control to gather ideas on how to shore up our township ordinance regarding certain animals,” Supervisor Richard Stathakis said. “So we are asked to consider an amendment to our ordinances.”

On April 13, Shelby Township police and Macomb County Animal Control arrived at a home on Woodbridge Drive and found 23 dogs that were not being adequately or appropriately cared for, according to police.

Police said the owner was trying to breed the dogs, as the dogs spent a lot of time in cages and were not being walked or groomed while living in poor sanitary conditions. The dogs were taken in by the Macomb County Animal Shelter.

Township Attorney Robert Huth said that from time to time there are issues brought in front of the board regarding animals, and he has found that the township’s regulations don’t match well with the county’s.

“Our regulations do not mirror what the county’s regulations are, so it makes it more difficult to enforce some issues we have had here in the township,” Huth said. “(The county’s) resources, expertise and equipment is much more in tune with what is needed in these situations than what our department has.”

The first big change outlines how many dogs or cats there can be living on one property. The amendment allows residents to own up to three dogs or three cats at a time, excluding times when there may be the birth of puppies or kittens.

If a resident wants more than that, they would have to appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals and meet criteria set forth by the ordinance. The ZBA would have the final say on authorizing a resident to have more than the allotted three animals.

The ordinance also outlines details on living conditions, such as not being left outside without shelter; defines ownership; and changes details on dangerous animals.

A year ago, the board adopted an ordinance aimed at enforcing dangerous animal situations, giving law enforcement more options when encountering an animal deemed to be “vicious.”

The amendments further clarify the definition of a dangerous animal beyond just attacking a person or another animal, including adding language about a dangerous animal also being one trained to fight, one that attacks on private or public property, and one that is afflicted with rabies.

With the ordinance changes in place, Huth said the hope is that they help improve enforcement going forward.

“We have changed the definition so it is clear to what is treated as a vicious animal in our township,” Huth said. “With these changes, they mirror the county regulation and hopefully solve some issues that have popped up here in the township.”