South Jordan City Council to debate pet limits

Published: Monday, July 19 2010 11:12 p.m. MDT

Sheri Ault walks her Great Dane around Oquirrh Lake in the Daybreak area of South Jordan.

Sarah A. Miller, Deseret News

SOUTH JORDAN — The South Jordan City Council is gearing up for a dogfight.

On one side is a council member who would like to see limits on pet numbers totally eliminated. On the other side is a council member who would like to maintain the status quo of two pets per species — dogs, cats, birds, etc. And in the middle is another council member who is hoping for a "happy compromise."

The issue arose after the City Council recently learned that several residential areas of the city are in zones that do not allow the keeping of pets, including the fast-growing Daybreak area.

The Council plans to address the issue tonight at its 6 p.m. meeting at City Hall, 1600 W. Towne Center Drive.

"Technically, it's not legal to have pets in those zones, but it's never been enforced," said Paul Cunningham, South Jordan government services director.

"It was an oversight," said Councilwoman Kathie Johnson.

The City Council plans to resolve the issue by removing the no-pets rule from the zoning ordinance. The council then wants to update the animal ordinance — and that is where the sparks may fly, since council members have differing views on pet limitations.

Councilwoman Aleta Taylor says she plans to present an alternative proposal eliminating the limit on the number of pets while requiring owners to properly manage and care for their animals.

"I don't feel city government's role is to always be trying to limit what I call 'natural rights' of citizens," Taylor said. "Having a pet is the right of being an American. It's a personal choice."

Johnson points out, however, that not everyone loves pets — especially in close quarters.

"Our community is getting tighter and tighter," Johnson said. "We want to keep a hold on it so everyone can live in harmony."

Councilwoman Leona Winger said she is hoping for a compromise.

"Pets are very important to people," Winger said. "It's a matter of balancing individual rights with neighbors' rights."

Daybreak resident Jenn Jones said she thinks a two-pet rule would be realistic. "Who wants more?" Jones said as she walked her pug named JoJo and standard Yorkie named Turtles on Monday evening.

Daybreak resident Michael Spence, who was walking his English sheepdog named Teddy, said limits could be even stricter.

"You shouldn't have a 'farm' in a suburban neighborhood," Spence said, adding that one dog and one cat are enough.

e-mail: astewart@desnews.com

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