Proposed Tulsa Animal Ordinance Change Leads To Dogfight

Wednesday, July 20th 2011, 11:16 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- One city councilor's efforts to close a loophole in Tulsa's animal ordinance lead to an outburst at City Hall.

Councilor Jim Mautino is trying to change how many animals are allowed in a single household.

At a committee meeting, three other councilors ended up walking out, and the chairman had to call for security.

"Do you want me to get excited? I'll get excited," said Councilor Jim Mautino.

Mautino is fired up.

"We are the policy makers - don't interrupt me, I have the floor!" he said.

He claims the Tulsa Animal Welfare manager and the Working in Neighborhoods Director are hurting his efforts to amend the city's animal code.

Mautino says he's trying to bring order to the hobbyist provision. It allows more than three dogs per household for people like Karen Gibson who have active show dogs, hunting dogs used in field trials or rescued dogs.

Read proposed ordinance

Those dogs are also exempt from spay and neuter laws.

"It took a long time, a lot of hearings, a lot of drafts, and it's been in place for over 20 years - and it works," said Karen Gibson, president of the Mid-Continent Kennel Club of Tulsa – and a hobbyist.

"A hobbyist truly is someone who loves dogs," Gibson said. "We spend much more money showing our dogs than we ever get back."

Councilor Mautino wants to make all hobbyists abide by the three-dog per household rule and only exempt hobbyists from spay and neuter laws if they prove the dog is a nationally recognized breed.

Anyone wanting more than three dogs would have to move out of residential areas.

Gibson has a problem with the three-dog rule.

"You don't want to get too many, but you need a few," she said.

The city's Animal Welfare Manager adds that the way the proposal reads could lead to more abuse.

"It opens up our community to even more illegal breeding, ill-advised breeding and more problems for animal welfare and its staff to have to monitor," said Jean Letcher, Tulsa Animal Welfare.

The city's ordinance states that a hobbyist exemption permit prohibits commercial breeding. A rescuer may have more dogs and cats than stipulated if the rescuer gets a private kennel permit from the city and the signatures of two-thirds of their neighbors who live within 300 feet

Mautino believes some people are taking advantage of the hobbyist exemption permit by using it cover up a breeding operation.

He has called a special meeting Friday morning at 8:30 to further discuss his proposal with the council, but no action will be taken at that meeting.