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Sat, Dec. 14

Zoners OK plan to ease rules limiting pets

KINGMAN - It may become easier for residents who live in the county to have more than four dogs. The Mohave County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 8-1 to approve changes to the Mohave County Zoning Ordinance Wednesday morning. The issue will come before the Board of Supervisors in September.

The changes redefine what a kennel is and what the differences are between a residential and a commercial kennel. It also defines a cattery as a place where 10 or more cats, four months of age or older, are kept.

Another major change is a new permit that would streamline the zoning use permit process for residents who would like to keep between five and 10 animals - cats, dogs or a mix of the two - on their property.

Instead of having to apply for a zoning use permit and then having to appear before the commission and then the Board of Supervisors for approval, all a resident would have to do is apply for a special over-the-counter limited zoning use permit, County Planner John Montgomery explained. In order to qualify for the permit, a resident's property would have to be at least half an acre in size, he said.

The permit would have to be renewed annually and could be revoked if more than 51 percent of the neighbors within 300 feet of the property complained or if the Health or Animal Control departments found that the property was a nuisance, Montgomery said. A public hearing would be held before the Board of Adjustments to determine the outcome of the complaint, he said.

Anyone wanting to keep more than 10 animals on their property would have to go through the complete zoning use permit process and appear before the commission and the Board, Montgomery said.

He warned that the new ordinances dealt only with land issues regarding pets. They did not deal with the health or welfare of the animals. Anyone applying for the new permits would have to also meet the requirements of the Environmental Health and Animal Control departments, he said.

The Mohave County Environmental Health and Animal Control departments were working on updating their ordinances separately. The idea was to bring the zoning changes and the health code changes for animals before the Board of Supervisors at the same time. This would hopefully prevent any confusion, he said.

Sharon Henry from Low Cost Spay & Neuter in Kingman expressed concern about setting the limit on the number of cats a resident could have at four. The county never had a limit on the number of cats before, she said.

"I think this needs more discussion. I don't think limiting people to four cats is going to help," she said.

Montgomery explained that the Planning and Zoning Department had always had a limit of four cats per home, but the Animal Control Department may not have enforced the rule, since cats can be hard to count.

J.D. Anderson, a vet at Manzanita Animal Hospital, asked if vet clinics and hospitals would be classified as kennels since they sometimes board animals overnight for customers.

Commissioner Sue Donahue explained that animal hospitals and clinics were not included in the definition of kennels.

Montgomery recommended adding that exclusion to the definition of kennel in the ordinance.

Hillarie Allison from Rescue Unwanted Furry Friends Foundation asked the commission to consider holding a workshop so that all of the animal clinics and rescue facilities could give the commission their suggestions.

"There's nothing in this about spaying and neutering animals," she said. If the county had a spay and neuter ordinance, then the county wouldn't be dealing with an overpopulation of animals, she said.

"Three minutes before the commission or the Board of Supervisors isn't enough time," she said.

Lotti Benker of Help Animals Lives Today railed against the county for having the money to build new county buildings, but not enough money to replace the Kingman Animal Shelter, which was built in 1975.

"We don't have the power to do anything about that. We just give recommendations to the Board. You have to do something to get the attention of the Board," said Commission Chair Carl Flusche.

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