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Kennel laws voted down

Kenai city council opts not to change licensing rules

Posted: Friday, December 07, 2007

Kenai's eight licensed kennel owners can rest easy; rules governing their licenses have not changed.

Following an hour of public testimony and nearly an hour of debate by city council members, a proposal to amend the city code was defeated on a 3-4 vote Wednesday night.

Proponents had sought to institute a requirement that property owners within a 300-foot radius be officially notified if a kennel license was applied for in their neighborhood. One version of the proposed ordinance also asked that notifications be sent out annually as kennel owners applied to renew licenses.

In Kenai, people keeping more than three dogs are required to obtain a $100 kennel license regardless of whether the kennel is a commercial business or a hobby kennel.

Those seeking the change argued that having a dog kennel next door negatively impacted their property values.

Kennel owners, most of whom belong to the Kenai Kennel Club, argued that the proposed changes were unnecessary.

"Kennels are not the problem," said Don Erwin. "People who don't take care of their dogs are the problem."

In addition to the issue of dogs barking, Bill Osborn, who identified himself as being a Rogers Road resident, said there are problems of stench in his neighborhood.

Alison Williams, who said she does not live in the city, asked why Kenai controls the number of pets people have.

"You don't control how many cars a person has, how many children they have," she said.

Susan Lovett said she works hard to keep a good kennel, but a few years ago, a neighbor took issue with her, the complaint went through the system, and "everything worked fine for both parties."

She said the proposed change was not needed.

Kennel owner Garnet Sarks said, "I find it difficult to have to play by more rules."

Kenai Animal Control Officer Patricia Stringer said the kennel owners who hold city licenses are not the problem, but also said she believed the wording of the proposed ordinance would help her help serve the public.

When asked by the council how many people in Kenai have kennel licenses, she said, "Eight." None has a commercial kennel business permit, she added.

Councilman Hal Smalley asked how many complaints about dog kennels she has received in the past one or two years.

"Of the eight licenses I have, in the last year ... perhaps two complaints for noise," Stringer said. "I have eight wonderful license holders; they are not a problem."

Arguing for the ordinance, Councilman Rick Ross said neighbors would not be notified about a license renewal if there are no complaints.

"The amendment (to the proposed ordinance) is in response to what we heard from the kennel owners," Ross said. "I don't think it's onerous."

Councilman Bob Molloy based his objection to passing the ordinance on legal terms.

"One question is who has the burden of proof," Molloy said, referring to alleged complaints.

"I think we've spent a lot of time on one complainant and two complaints," said Smalley. "I don't see that anything is broken."

Councilmen Ross and Barry Eldridge participating telephonically and Mayor Pat Porter voted in favor of the proposed change. All others voted, "No."

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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