New Berlin reverses limits on dogs
Special license deemed an infringement on residents' rights
New Berlin - New Berlin has taken off its year old-limit of four dogs without a fanciers permit as part of its review of its new dog ordinance.
Aldermen viewed limiting the number of dogs as an infringement on residents' rights, as long as they can take care of them and as long as the dogs aren't a nuisance.
The Common Council had enacted the limit of four dogs without the need for a fanciers permit as part of the dog ordinance early last year. Last week, the council removed the limit.
City attorney Mark Blum had already advised the council that limits on the numbers of dogs have not held up under court challenges.
Under New Berlin's revised ordinance, the only way for the city to deal with multiple dogs that get out of hand at a home is to apply the nuisance ordinances that are pretty specific when it comes to dogs.
"The tools are there," Alderwoman Deena Liska said at a previous council meeting on revising the dog ordinance. The tools in the ordinance pertain to not only barking but to odor and other problems, she said.
Alderman Ken Harenda found no support in his effort to keep the fanciers license that he called an additional check for dealing with nuisance situations.
He liked the fanciers permit because it could be revoked if a home with a lot of dogs became burdensome to neighbors.
"It introduces a tracking mechanism," Harenda said.
Otherwise, a finding that there is a nuisance can be problematic, he said, putting police and code enforcers in a difficult situation.
But Liska who chaired the committee that developed the ordinance and then proposed the modifications to it, said the committee intentionally wrote specific criteria the city would need to prove a nuisance into the ordinance.
Without a fanciers permit to revoke, the city will have to go to circuit court to have dogs removed, Blum said.
The council voted 6-1 with Harenda casting the only "no" vote.
The revised dog ordinance also would have owners appeal the designation of a dog as dangerous to the municipal court instead of to the Common Council.
- Jane Ford-Stewart
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