Archive for Wednesday, February 11, 2004

3-dog night too much for Council

February 11, 2004

City Council members Monday night took action not to renew a Shawnee couple's pet permit because at least one of their three dogs had become a public nuisance.

Charles and Judy Genola, 13923 W. 48th Terrace, had submitted a pet permit renewal and paid a $15 fee to keep three dogs -- a Labrador, a Vizsla mix and a chow mix -- at their residence.

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The Council's action means the Genolas will have 60 days to remove one of the dogs from their home.

Two of the Genolas' neighbors attended the meeting to protest the renewal after filing at least four noise complaints in 2003, according to city records. Shawnee animal control reports show that four written warnings for barking complaints were issued from May 19 to Dec. 10 of last year.

Ward IV Council member Tracy Thomas motioned to approve the renewal before Council members heard from the Genolas and their neighbors, and Ward I Council member John Segale had seconded it, but after a discussion lasting at least 30 minutes, Thomas withdrew her motion, Segale withdrew his second and the council voted unanimously to revoke the permit.

"Obviously this is unacceptable," said Bill McGuff, Ward III Council member. "It would drive me nuts, but I'd also like to cite that we've had two or three applications for a third dog within the last two or three months, and all those had complaints against the dogs, and we denied the request for the third dog."

A Shawnee ordinance allows residents to house two pets per residence. Residents must apply for a special pet permit to house a third animal.

"We need to be consistent when we look at this, and also the people need to do something about the dogs," McGuff said.

Albert Lawler, 4935 Rene, said he originally had signed a petition to allow the Genolas to house a third pet "under protest," because of concerns that the dog would disturb the peace.

Judy Genola said that after Lawler had signed the protest she had given him two telephone numbers to contact the Genolas if Lawler had a complaint about the dogs.

Lawler, who said he often is at home when the dogs are barking and the Genolas are gone, said that after calling a number of times regarding the dogs, Charles Genola had become "belligerent."

"I was told it was my problem," Lawler said.

Lawler also said the dogs bark when the Genolas are home, "sometimes until 11 o' clock at night."

Judy Genola said the couple previously had addressed the dogs' barking by building a pen, installing electrical fencing and fitting the dogs with electric shock collars.

"We're aware of when they bark," Judy Genola said. "Dogs will bark. They don't bark excessively, and they don't bark all night."

Included in Council materials was a letter signed by "Mr. And Mrs. Charles Genola," apparently drafted after the couple had received one of the four written warnings. The Council report stated that the city had received the letter following a written warning dated June 6, 2003.

"I heard someone yell out a window and (sic) 10:00 at night for the dogs to shut up, and it was not my dogs," an excerpt from the letter reads. "My dogs bark, but certainly not to the extent they have been accused.

"You have now harrassed (sic) us for over two years. It is time to prove it is our dogs and stop harrassing (sic) us," the letter continued.

Charles Genola said the letter wasn't intended for the governing body.

"That letter was not written to the City Council," he said. "That letter was written to the neighbors because we kept getting anonymous phone calls saying, 'Shut your dog up,' and then they would slam the phone down."

One of the Genolas' neighbors suggested that the couple take the dogs inside at night, but Ward III Council member Jeff Meyers said the Council only could take action to revoke the permit.

"We can only do one thing at this meeting tonight, and that's to deny permits for three dogs. If we do that, they will have to get rid of one dog. They have the choice of what dog they want to get rid of," Meyers said. "We can do one thing only -- we can choose to not allow them to have three dogs."

Following the Genolas' comments to the Council, Thomas motioned to revoke the permit. Segale seconded the motion, and the Council approved the action on an 8-0 vote.

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