Five dogs, OK; six, not.
That’s the law in Easley now.
City Council has adopted an ordinance to put a limit on the number of canines residents can keep in their homes, after a dispute between neighbors over a household that had 40 dogs.
The council voted 5-2 in favor of the ordinance on second and final reading, with Brian Garrison and Chris Mann opposed.
Before the vote, the council amended the ordinance to give an exemption to litters of puppies up to four months old.
The action came after an impassioned public session that included two speakers in favor of the five-dog limit and six opposed.
Those against it called it government overreach into private property rights and cited circumstances in which families might have to euthanize dogs to comply with the law.
“I think you’re using a jackhammer to swat a fly,” Julie Horton said.
The two who spoke in favor were James and Jackie Carpenter, who had been pleading with the city for eight months to do something about their next-door neighbors, who at one time had 40 dogs in the house.
James Carpenter noted that the city of Clemson limits residents to three dogs.
“I have not heard of any civil disobedience or drive-by shootings or anything like that over there,” he said.
“It’s just common decency. It’s the right thing to do.”
Bobby Hughes, who with his wife Linda keeps about 20 dogs at his house next door to the Carpenters, said the pets stay inside most of the time and aren’t a nuisance. A friend who lived downstairs and owned another 20 dogs moved out recently, he said.
“The dogs are like a family. We take care of them. We treat them like they are our kids,” he said.
Councilman Jim Robinson, who headed a committee that studied the issue, said the five is more than twice the average number of dogs the average American household owns.
Mann said he thinks the problem between the two families should have been addressed by other laws already on the books such as the noise ordinance.
“We’re affecting 19,991 residents based on the complaint of two,” he said.
Mayor Larry Bagwell said he expects the police to enforce the dog limit based on complaints and won’t be out seeking violators.