Vague Dog Ordinance Leads to Lawsuit
It’s not having a dog ordinance that is the problem, it that the ordinance’s word is so vague that they question whether it’s even legal?
Seems Louisville, KY Attorney Jon Fleischaker is representing a dozen plaintiffs, including a kennel, questioning the constitutionality and legality of the of the ordinance.
“It’s not a dog case, it is about people and individual rights and individual freedoms,” said Fleischaker. “The ordinance authorizes unconstitutional search and seizures, unconstitutional searches of people’s homes.”
Although he does acknowledge Metro Council has made some changes to improve the law since the lawsuit was filed in March 2007, Fleischaker says those changes still are not enough.
In the motion filed Thursday, Fleischaker claims the current law is “vague” and writes some exemptions “border on the absurd.” He cites one exemption that says a “dog is not dangerous or potentially dangerous if it bites anyone assaulting its owner,” an exemption that “does not include a police officer.”
In the motion, Fleischaker writes Metro Animal Services director Dr. Gilles Meloche was asked “If a dog can know whether a person assaulting its owner is a police officer?” Dr. Meloche is said to have replied “I don’t think so, but I don’t know,” in an August 2007 deposition.
We contacted Metro Animal Services for an interview but our request was denied.
Fleischaker says he believes the current law gives Metro Animal Services “unfettered discretion” to choose “how and when to enforce its provisions.” He says this includes giving the Animal Services director the right to “inspect the home of a person with an unaltered dog for the purpose of determining whether the home is, in his (the director’s) view, suitable for keeping an unaltered dog.” According to Fleischaker, that means one person gets to decide whether or not you get to keep your pet.
“When the state has an ordinance or statute that allows it to do anything it chooses whenever it chooses to do it, that is unconstitutional because there are no standards,” he said. “Dr. Meloche has it within his power to declare any dog he thinks without standards…to be a so-called dangerous dog.” (WAVE3)
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