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12:26 PM Fri, Dec. 14th

Callous county causes confusion

Residents wonder if they'll have to give up pets

JC AMBERLYN/Photo Illustration<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->The Mohave County Board of Supervisors surprised residents and pet lovers alike Monday when it changed the number of dogs a resident living on less than an acre could have in the county from four to two.

JC AMBERLYN/Photo Illustration<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->The Mohave County Board of Supervisors surprised residents and pet lovers alike Monday when it changed the number of dogs a resident living on less than an acre could have in the county from four to two.

KINGMAN - The County Board of Supervisors stunned residents Monday when it revised the number of dogs a person living in the county could have from four to two on parcels less than an acre.The Board added the restriction before approving a revised version of the county's health and zoning ordinances governing animal kennels and sanctuaries. The restriction only applies to dogs; residents are still allowed to have four cats. The ordinance will go into effect 30 days after it is published in the newspaper.

According to Deputy County Civil Attorney Bill Ekstrom, the Board has the legal right to make changes to any item that is on its agenda. That is what the public Board meetings are all about. They are a chance for the Board to hear input from the public and make necessary changes, he said.

Deputy County Civil Attorney Dolores Milkie said the county has no plans to take action on any resident with more than two dogs at this time. The county is still discussing how this part of the ordinance would be enforced.

"We're in the process of trying to figure out what will be done," she said. One option would be to allow people who already have four dogs to keep their animals, Milkie said. Area shelters are already full of animals; the county doesn't want to see more animals being dropped off.

The revised ordinances are really a melding of ordinances from three different county departments - Environmental Health, Planning and Zoning and Animal Control, she said. Each department has had its own series of ordinances governing animals for quite a long time. The revision was an attempt to simplify and organize all of those ordinances.

The committee in charge of reviewing the ordinances attempted to build a little bit of leniency into the revisions in order to accommodate existing sanctuaries and kennels, Milkie said.

The committee was also trying to alleviate the overpopulation of animals in the county, committee member Kristal Gibson told the Board Monday. It was designed as a stepping stone. One example was the size requirement for dog runs. The ordinance allows for runs that are smaller than that recommended by the Humane Society, so that current sanctuaries wouldn't have to tear apart and rebuild their dog runs, she said.

Additional changes were made after the ordinance committee met with kennel and sanctuary owners on Sept. 28. The committee agreed to allow sanctuaries and kennels to use sand as well as pea gravel and concrete in outdoor kennels. It also did away with the requirement that there be one quarantine kennel for every 10 animals. Sick or injured animals must still be separated from the general population, but a special kennel is not necessary. It also recognizes microchips as a well as dog tags as a form of identification. The committee also added chain link to the list of acceptable fencing, as long as the chain link fence is embedded in a 12-foot concrete footer. It requires that animals be fed from stainless steel bowls and that a large exercise area be provided for the animals. The committee also grandfathered into the existing ordinance sanctuaries and kennels that have a current health permit.

The Board approved all of those changes to the proposed ordinance Monday and waived the requirement for the 12-foot cement footer for current kennels and sanctuaries and allowed chemical toilets to be installed at the facilities. District I Supervisor Gary Watson was the only Board member to vote against the ordinance. He also made a motion at Monday's meeting to send the issue back to staff, but the motion died for a lack of a second.

The main reason he voted against the revised ordinance, Watson said, was because he felt that it didn't require large enough kennels and enough exercise for dogs kept in sanctuaries. "Some of these places have more than 100 dogs. What happens if the owner is not home and the volunteers don't show up? How are they (the animals) going to get enough exercise?" he asked.

Supervisors Tom Sockwell and Buster Johnson did not return phone calls before deadline. The Board could reconsider the issue if one of the supervisors that voted for the revised ordinance put it back on the agenda, Watson said.

What You Need To Know

• The new county ordinance would limit residents that live on less than an acre of property to two dogs and four cats. Residents that live on an acre or more of property can apply for a special over-the-counter zoning use permit that would allow them to have more animals. The permit would have to be renewed each year.

• The new ordinance has five classifications of kennels; each classification allows a resident to have a different number of dogs on their property. For example, a class II kennel permit would allow a resident to have between five and 10 dogs if their property is larger than one acre.

• The city of Kingman allows residents to have a total of three animals - cats, dogs or potbellied pigs - on properties less than 40,000 square feet and a total of four animals on properties that are 40,000 square feet or more.

• Bullhead City limits the total number of animals a resident is allowed to have to three. Lake Havasu City has no limits on the number of animals a resident can have as long as the animals are well cared for.

• According to Arizona Revised Statues, animals such as horses and cattle are considered livestock and do not count as pets.

• A kennel is defined as any building or structure that houses four or more animals that are four months or older. That definition does not include people who have four or fewer animals as long as no more than two of the dogs are breeding females. However, animal sanctuaries do currently fall under that definition.

• A kennel or sanctuary is required to keep medical records of all animals on the property and have all animals tagged with a dog tag or a microchip or keep a photo and description that lists the animal's vaccination record and allows the animal to be easily identified. Records also have to be kept of every animal that is sold or adopted.

• Short-term facilities are defined as any kennel where animals are kept for one month or less. Long-term facilities are defined as any kennel where animals are kept for longer than one month.

• In short-term facilities, dog kennels can be no smaller than 12 square feet for dogs that are under 35 pounds, no smaller than 20 square feet for dogs that are between 36 and 50 pounds, and no smaller than 24 square feet for dogs that are more than 50 pounds.

• Long-term care facilities are required to have runs that are three times as big as in short-term facilities. Long-term facilities that have health permits that were issued prior to the Board of Supervisors approving the ordinance are exempt from the kennel requirements.

• Long-term facilities must also provide an exercise area for dogs.

• The flooring of indoor dog kennels must be made of material that is waterproof and easily cleaned. The floor of outdoor kennels can be made of similar materials or pea gravel or sand. The sand or gravel must be replaced every six months or sooner, as needed. Dirt is not allowed. Concrete floors must slope to drain water from the area.

• Cat cages must be at least 2 feet high and at least 22 inches in width and length. Each cage can hold only one cat unless it's a nursing mother with kittens, and must have one litter pan.

• Cat colony cages must be at least 10 by 15 foot and can house no more than 15 adult cats or 20 kittens. One litter pan must be provided for every three cats or five kittens. Long-term facilities must have cages that are three times as large.

• Kennels and sanctuaries must have adequate bathroom facilities for volunteers.

• Each animal in outside kennels must have an enclosure to protect the animal from the weather that is large enough for the animal to sit, stand, lie down and turn around in comfortably.

• Animals must be fed using stainless steel bowls.

• The ordinance also describes what methods of euthanasia are allowed, how to dispose of waste and how food must be stored.