The Keystone City Council met in a special session to answer the appeal of several dog owners in town. The meeting announced for 6:00 p.m. began at 5:54 p.m. without the owners in the room. The owners were outside talking with their lawyer. Upon being notified they promptly joined the meeting already in session.
All of the dogs in question were "identified" first by a city employee as being pit bulls. The city employee filed a report to that effect with the city. The city contacted the Sheriff's Office. They were "identified" a second time by the deputy based on the "characteristics" clause in the city's ordinance.
Two of the owners cited do not believe that their dogs are pit bulls and will be required to make an appointment with a veterinarian to verify their breeds. They have two weeks to have their dog's breed identified by a vet They will report to their lawyer who will contact the city attorney. If it is determined that the dogs are not indeed pit bulls, they will not need to remove the dogs.
Three words. Emotional. Support. Animal. The law requires that accommodations be made for service or ESA animals. Because of ADA laws, the city cannot remove the animals from the owners who fall into this category.
As part of the accommodations for the ESAs ownership. the Keystone families will have to erect a six-foot fence that is secured into the ground, keep a leash on and muzzle their animals if they are in public, and show proof of homeowners insurance to the city.
The council and mayor were not happy that this was the case for these owners and that the hands of the city were tied when it came to getting rid of the animals. As a result, things became contentious between the council and owners. It appeared as though officials didn't understand that federal law trumps local ordinances.
After encouragement from the city's attorney and a single member of the council, a 3-2 vote in favor of the accommodations for the animals passed. The mayor appeared upset that this was the first time he could remember a split vote.
These owners will have one month to meet this requirement.
In another matter, none of the animals were registered with the city. The city has this requirement but has failed to notify its residents more than once a year. The City Clerk said that residents are notified, every October about the requirement.
Following the unfavorable decision made by the council, the mayor and council insisted that late fees be added to the registration of all the dog owners. Three of the four had no idea that it was a requirement as the city's website is not available for residents to view the ordinances nor does it appear that they have any other forms of communication available to residents.
Issues of communication between the city and residents was evident throughout the meeting. More than once, owners reported that they had dropped off paperwork concerning the dogs, but it could not be located or they didn't hear back from the city. Fortunately, papers that were relevant to the meeting were retrieved electronically by the residents.