QUINCY, Mich. — Families in the village of Quincy are being forced to rehome their animals with new changes to the animal ordinance or new enforcement of long-standing ordinances.
The ordinance, which dates back to 1989, states that no property can hold more than four household animals, including cats and dogs. The village council recently passed additional changes that state livestock will no longer be allowed on property, including backyard chickens. Exceptions include those with five acres of property, which would be zoned for agricultural use.
The portion of the ordinance limiting animals to four or less is enforced based on complaints. If a complaint is lodged, the village is forced to investigate the matter. Previously, those with livestock in village limits were allowed to apply for permits. However, no permits where ever issued concerning the animals.
The changes impact a number of families in the village, including the Tubergans who operate a rescue out of their home. They currently have 11 dogs, many are large breeds such as Saint Bernards.
"We just have a love for dogs, for animals. It’s just a passion, one of our many passions," said Lisa Tubergan. "They are all very lovable. I’ve never had any complaints about them biting or anything like that."
Recently, the village told the couple they would have to reduce the number of animals down to four to become compliant with the city ordinance. The village says at least three complaints were lodged against the couple and their dogs.
Previously, the Tubergans tried to receive a kennel permit or a special use permit for their property. However, it was denied. The village says kennel permits are only allowed on non-residential properties, making the Tubergans ineligible to receive one.
"I am trying to do my job and make sure that everyone is in compliance with the village and the ordinances. That’s part of being village manager. I make sure that when a complaint happens, that it is addressed and taken care of," said Village Manager Brittany Butler.
The village has also contacted families who currently house backyard chickens. Christie Berry and her family currently have 10 on their property.
"My children are all in 4-H, and they won’t be able to have them on their property to work with them easier. We have to go somewhere else," said Berry. "They are devastated. They are very sad and they want to keep them, but we can’t."
The council did have the option to grandfather in the current animals in city limits. Initially, families were hopeful they might be able to keep their current pets without adding more animals to their property. The option, however, was struck down by the council in November.
"The council decided not allow illegal non-conforming because it would contradict the ordinance that they just passed," said Butler. "The fact is that we have an ordinance and without an ordinance, anybody could have 17 dogs tied up in their yard and we wouldn't be able to do anything about it. It’s important for villages and surrounding towns as well to have their ordinances to protect all of the residents."
Families have 90 days to become compliant with the ordinance. The Tubergans say they will choose to move before rehoming their animals or surrendering them.
"It’s our kids. I’m not making a choice to get rid of, like a child," said Tubergan. "I don’t want bad news, like don’t ever move to Quincy, but yet, don’t move to Quincy because if you are an animal lover, you don’t want to be here."
The village says they want to work with those families impacted and will grant extensions to those who can't immediately find a solution for their pets so they don't have to euthanize any animals.