City Commissioners Remain Silent on Ordinance Limiting Pets In GR

Posted at 6:50 PM, Nov 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-13 18:55:36-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Some city commissioners say they are looking into the fact that Grand Rapids lacks an ordinance to limit the number of dogs and cats a person can have in the city.

However, they are remaining silent on whether or not they may want to change that in the future.

A woman hired to be a pet sitter first brought our attention to a home on Oakwood NE early in the week.

She said there were seven cats and 23 dogs in the home.

She said 18 of the dogs were stacked on top of each other in small crates.

She said some of the dogs couldn’t even turn around.

“The issues is that these dogs are living in very cramped, confined environment, 23 hours a day,” said Renee Miles, “It`s very sad. It`s wrong, and I know this lady thinks she loves them, but she`s not thinking right.”

Meanwhile, the dog’s owner Kimberly Savino defended her care of the animals.

She said as long as they were well-fed and healthy it, it was her right to have them.

She pointed out that Grand Rapids did not prohibit a limit on the number of cats and dogs you could own.

“I run a group home for rescue and special needs dogs and since we moved out here, these dogs have to be crated. Im in the process of buying a home nearby. Grand Rapids doesn`t have a dog limit. All the animals are fine,” said Savino.

Less than 24 hours later, Grand Rapids City Commissioner Ruth Kelly responded to a FOX 17 email asking for more information on whether the city would be interested in providing a limit on the animals.

“We have our city attorney looking into this and plan to contact the county to discuss this as well,” said Kelly.

Kelly said she did not want to go on camera.

Rosalynn Bliss also responded, saying she would look into it further.

However, she did not respond when I emailed a request for an interview with her.

City Attorney Catherine Mish sent us a response, saying, the city’s, “provision would only be violated if there is some type of ‘odorous or unsanitary condition’ on the premises. There is no violation simply because of the number of domestic animals allowed in the dwelling.’

We sent an email to all six city commissioners, asking if they would consider changing the ordinance.

Five commissioners, including Ruth Kelly, Rosalynn Bliss, Dave Shaffer, James B. White, Sr., Elias Lumpkins either didn’t want to discuss whether or not they would support a change, or didn’t respond to that question in the email at all.

Commissioner Walt Gutowski of Ward 1 was the only commissioner willing to talk on camera so far.

He told us that he was surprised that the city didn’t have an ordinance.

He also addressed the fact that East Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek all had ordinaces limiting the number of dogs to around three, while Grand Rapids did not.

“They`re all great cities but Grand Rapids is great in it`s own right and we try to do things that`s good for Grand Rapids, and it citizens, not what are regional friends do.”

“…Certainly there`s got to be some number and I would think that this number 23, that they would need a kennel license or something.”

However, Savino told us that she did not need licenses for all the animals.

She said she checked before she moved to Grand Rapids from Boston.

Gutowski also suggested that was something that needed to be looked into.

“That may be a concern so we may need to do something here,” he said. “But again. I’ll bring it back to the rest of the group.”

Gutowski was the commissioner that brought the issue up at Tuesday’s meeting, mentioning FOX 17’s email.

Renee Miles said she had contacted Gutowski about the home along with other commissioners.  She said she appreciated his willingness to get in touch with her quickly to discuss the issue and investigate it further.

Miles says she will continue to push for change for the sake of the animals in the West Michigan area.

Savino also issued a statement responding to the claims against her.  Check out the link to the story below: