Grand Rapids considers household pet limit

A Feb. 11, 2017 photo of two Persian cats. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Tuesday was perfect for a visit to Covell Dog Park by Sue Sullivan and her two dogs.

But if a proposed ordinance is adopted by the city, one more dog and Sullivan will reach her limit.

Residents would be restricted to three cats and three dogs per household under the proposed rule, which is up for a city commission vote later this month.

“I think responsible owners can have more than that. That’s fine if they can afford it,” said Sullivan.

First Ward City Commissioner Dave Shaffer is one of the backers of the proposed ordinance.

“I’d say it’s not a high priority issue, but one that we should fix,” said Shaffer.

Enforcement would be complaint driven; no one from the city would knock on your door unless someone reported a problem.

“(We’re) not interested in being pet police,” said city manager Greg Sundstrom.

East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Grandville and Wyoming currently have similar rules.

But some commissioners question if the problem is big enough to require a new policy.

“Are we becoming too big government, when we’re trying to create policy… a policy to address very few isolated incidents?” Asked 3rd Ward Commissioner Senita Lenear during Tuesday’s discussion.

“Perhaps after we get the information from the city manager, we can make a better decision about whether we need a policy to address the number of pets people have in their homes,” Lenear later told 24 Hour News 8.

City officials admit pets aren’t overrunning the neighborhoods, but hoarding incidents that arise are tough to deal with.

In 2014, nearly 40 dogs were taken from a home on the city’s northeast side.

Supporters says the new ordinance would simplify enforcement.

“When we do have these cases, they are very difficult to resolve and with this simple ordinance in place we would be able to resolve these much more quickly,” said Sundstrom.

“It’s reasonable,” added Shaffer. “I think most residents would say that it seems to be at a level that they think matches and meets the needs and probably is good to have a good neighborhood that is thriving.”