St. Clair Shores City Council amends ordinances protecting animal welfare

By: Alyssa Ochss | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published August 4, 2023


ST. CLAIR SHORES — On July 17, the St. Clair Shores City Council approved amendments to two ordinances protecting animal welfare in a 7-0 vote.

The council approved an amendment to section 1-46, which dealt with civil fines, before they moved on to section 1-45, which dealt with municipal civil infractions. The amendments were brought to council by Councilman John Caron and the Animal Care & Welfare Committee.

In section 1-46, Macomb County informed the Animal Care and Welfare Committee that multiple civil infractions could no longer be charged as a misdemeanor. After further inspection, it was found by the city that “the clause that existed prior to the recodification of the City codes and ordinances regarding multiple infractions had been removed,” according to the meeting agenda.

The amendment would add the animal welfare clause back into the code, allowing multiple infractions to become a misdemeanor.

In section 1-45, it was noted by the county that abandoning an animal only counted as a civil infraction. After review by the city, they found “the only part of the Animal Ordinance section that could be a misdemeanor is a violation of the Regulation of vicious dogs,” according to the meeting agenda.

The amendment would raise abandoning an animal, as well as other instances of animal cruelty, to a misdemeanor on the first infraction. Charges that could become a misdemeanor on multiple infractions include giving away live animals such as birds, fish or reptiles as prizes and other infractions.

Regarding section 1-46, Caron said multiple civil infractions that increased in price over time replaced the clause. It offered no opportunity to turn into a misdemeanor.

“People would just still go keep paying the fine and not actually have to change behavior,” Caron said.

Councilwoman Candice Rusie noted a repeated definition of municipal civil infraction in two different sections, but agreed with the amendment to section 1-46.

“I think this makes a lot of sense to give the courts and the prosecutor the ability to escalate and not just have it be a fine after a fine after a fine with nothing more than that,” Rusie said.

Councilman Dave Rubello made a motion to add the clause and to strike the definition of municipal civil infractions so it wasn’t listed twice.

Caron said that the clause is part of the entire code, and it does not just deal with animals.

“Anything that is a civil infraction,” Caron said. “There’s multiple building things that are in civil infractions today that can get escalated to a misdemeanor if they’re still not compliant.”

Caron said there were also police items that would be affected by this. Both Community Development and Inspections Director Denise Pike and Police Chief Jason Allen agreed to reinsert the clause.

Caron said amending section 1-45 was in response to an instance where the Macomb County Animal Control had a case of dog abandonment. He said the dog was so emaciated that it could not be saved.

“They were able to track down who abandoned the dog there and, when they went to go charge them, found that all they could do was a civil infraction,” Caron said.

Rubello brought up the section dealing with the confinement of a dog to a tethering device an unreasonable amount of time, questioning what timeframe would be “unreasonable.” Caron said they left it vague because it varies on the type of animal.

“Folks, just real simple, just be kind to animals,” Rubello said. “You don’t have to tell most people, but sometimes you do.”

Rubello made a motion to approve the amendment to section 1-45.

The set of amendments comes after the city approved a dog breeding ordinance at the council’s May 15 meeting. According to the Planning Commission’s minutes from that meeting, it requires breeders in St. Clair Shores to register with Macomb County Animal Control and go through routine veterinary care. It also sets an age limit for breeding at 12 years and states that a female dog can have no more than six litters in its lifetime.

To read the full ordinances, visit