• Eleanor Hendrix talks to commissioners about her 16 cats and five dogs while Code Enforcement Officer Patrick Hopp listens.
    Eleanor Hendrix talks to commissioners about her 16 cats and five dogs while Code Enforcement Officer Patrick Hopp listens.

Too many dogs, cats

Hendrix, Wilhite asking for leniency on number of cats, dogs they shelter
“I gave them until January to comply,” said Hopp.

Eleanor Hendrix and Kyra Wilhite appeared before commissioners Monday night to protest an ordinance adopted in 2014 concerning the number of animals allowed on a property.

Hendrix went first, stating the primary reason for the ordinance change was in reference to the tethering of dogs. Hendrix said she was a part of the discussions and was not aware of the addition of cats to the number of animals allowed on a property. 

“I was unaware of the change of language there in 2014 from the previous ordinance in 2008 - that one was addressing dogs,” said Hendrix. She said the purpose was due to barking dogs. 

Hendrix said she thought she was in compliance until told differently by animal control. “I didn’t know I was not in compliance with the present ordinance as it was written until November of 2015 when animal control came out and wanted to know how many cats I had. I told them I had 23 cats and four cat houses.” Hendrix said she built her first cat house in the early 70s. She also said none of her cats were running free. Hendrix also said she had five dogs, one which was in a fence and the others in the yard.

Hendrix was told by animal control she was required to get a kennel license if there were more than 15 animals on the property. 

“The ordinance states you have to get your neighbor’s permission - anyone within 1,200 feet - has to sign for you get a kennel license plus a fee you have to pay,” said Wilhite. 

Hendrix said most people think of barking dogs when they think of kennels but the issue here was cats that are being housed. 

Hendrix then asked to be grandfathered under the old ordinance which dealt only with dogs. “Since I have had these cats all these years I am asking that I be grandfathered in on that particular clause. I think it’s only fair,” said Hendrix. 

She then said the county was unable to police the cat situation in the county and could only enforce it on those who housed their cats where they could be counted. 

“It’s unfair! It’s unfair to enforce it on only two people!” said Hendrix as she made her way to her seat.

Wilhite spoke next saying she had the same situation as Hendrix. 

“I have cat houses with like 17 cats.” she said, adding that she has seven dogs as well. 

“I inherited some of the animals from a lady who died a little over eight years ago and some of the animals are also mine,” said Wilhite.

Wilhite said she had always known that if a person had more than 15 dogs a kennel license was required. 

She said she was informed by Patrick (Hopp) in January that if you had more than 15 animals a kennel license was required. 

“It’s been that way out there for at least 10 years,” said Wilhite. 

She then said all the cats were spayed and neutered, confined and well taken care of.

She then asked to be grandfathered in as well since they were unaware of the ordinance change. She also said the county website did not have current ordinances posted and that it still only referred to dogs. “It hasn’t been updated on the website,” said Wilhite. 

“It’s a real problem for me, I mean, financially I have to come up with $250 and that’s a problem and it would be a problem for me to have to try to move the animals off the property,” said Wilhite.

At last Thursday’s work session Patrick Hopp, code enforcement officer for the county told commissioners the county originally adopted the kennel portion of the ordinance in 2008 after finding a property with more than 175 dogs. 

He then said the ordinances were reviewed again in 2014 and changes were adopted by the board of commissioners. 

Hopp said he worked with the Humane Society to come up with the guidelines. “Together as a group, we came up with these,” said Hopp.

He also said Wilhite was currently facing charges for violating the ordinance. 

Hopp stated he had received a call on Dec. 28 in reference to a dog bite incident which happened the day prior. 

An animal control officer responded to the call and found the dog was up-to-date on rabies vaccinations and there were no prior complaints in reference to the dog so the owner was not cited for that incident. 

While at the property the animal control officer asked how many animals were there and was told there were 23 cats and nine dogs. He said he then went to the property and informed Wilhite they were in violation of the ordinance and that they would either need a kennel license or would have to remove all but 15 animals.

“I gave them until January to comply,” said Hopp. He then said in January he went back to the property and there had been no change so he cited Wilhite, the property owner.

He said Wilhite had requested a jury trial in state court and the matter had not been to court as of Thursday.

Commissioners made no comment on the request at the meeting.

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