By Naomi Hatch
The Town of Taylor passed a kennel ordinance in April, but problems with it were brought to light after a lawsuit was filed, Town Manager Gus Lundberg advised the town council Oct. 23. Before the discussion ended, the council voted to repeal the ordinance and work to create a better one.
Kennel owner John Banker explained that he has the only kennel in Taylor’s town limits and he has filed a suit in district court listing Animal Control Officer Paul Beatty and Snowflake-Taylor Chief of Police Jerry VanWinkle as defendants. Banker said they were listed as such because they are identified in the ordinance as the enforcers.
Banker explained that the statute required him to come into compliance with new requirements that not in effect when he started the kennel in 1992. He went on to explain that there is a provision that if one of the enforcement people comes into the kennel and finds a violation of any applicable rule, he or she has the authority to tear up the kennel license and leave the owner with nothing. “This allows an officer to come in and say they don’t like it and take your license away on the spot,” said Banker.
Lundberg said there were three options: to repeal the ordinance and set up a committee to review the issue and come back to the council at a later date with a better solution; leave the ordinance in place and make changes to it; or keep the ordinance in place and go forward with the lawsuit.
“I filed this action as a last resort,” Banker said, explaining that it was coming close to the 180-day requirement. “I felt I had no choice.”
He added that if the ordinance was repealed, he would file a voluntary dismissal of the action first thing the next day.
Councilman Jason Brubaker said that he had researched this issue and found that there was a public hearing prior to adopting the ordinance. He asked Banker if he attended that hearing, and was told that Banker missed the notice and did not attend. It was later noted that Banker was the only kennel owner and should have had notice of the hearing.
There was discussion on the types of dogs raised and the number of dogs owned, and Banker invited council members to visit the kennel.
It was suggested that a committee visit the kennel, rather than the entire council.
Council Carl Cosper moved to amend the existing ordinance.
Mayor Fay Hatch asked if Cosper would like to repeal the ordinance rather than amend it, and Cosper said he would.
Vice Mayor Shawn Palmer recalled the meeting and the fact that Banker was not present, and asked the town attorney a few details about it.
“I was told the ordinance was much needed…I believe an ordinance is needed, but not this one,” said the vice mayor, noting he was also told the issue was well researched and highly recommended, and based on that information, he voted for the ordinance.
A motion to repeal the ordinance passed unanimously.
Lundberg, Beatty and Town Attorney Karl Lautz will serve on the committee working to create a new ordinance, reaching out to others as needed.
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By Naomi Hatch