Coon Rapids considers a limit on the number of domestic animals

An ordinance presented to the Coon Rapids City Council Oct. 16 would limit the number of domestic animals residents could keep in their home.

But the council was not ready to act on the staff proposal at its next meeting, Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Instead, it set the proposed ordinance aside to discuss at a future work session.

No date for that work session has been set. It could be in November, December or even January, according to Mayor Tim Howe.

Currently, the number of dogs/cats that can be kept in a home is limited to a total of two; residents wanting more than two dogs and/or cats have to apply for a multiple pet permit.

But right now there is no limit on the number of other domestic animals that can be in a residence, according to City Attorney David Brodie.

“To protect the health, safety and welfare of residents of the city, staff is recommending that council enact an ordinance limiting the number of domestic animals that can be maintained at a dwelling within the city,” Brodie wrote in a report to the council.

Under city code, domestic animals are defined as non-poisonous snakes or snakes not prohibited by the code chapter, birds kept indoors, non-poisonous spiders, turtles, lizards, hamsters, chinchillas, mice, rabbit, gerbils, white rats, guinea pigs, or similar smaller animals capable of being maintained continuously in cages and indoors.

A few years ago the council enacted an ordinance banning the keeping of non-domestic animals at residences and provided a list of animals that fell under the non-domestic category.

“The city’s current code does not provide any limitation on the number of domestic animals that a household may possess,” Brodie wrote.

“Having a large number of permitted animals can cause unhealthy and unsanitary conditions in a dwelling and create potential issues with the animals.”

The proposed ordinance would cap the number of domestic animals in a residence to 12.

That would be in addition to the cats/dogs that are allowed in a home and are covered under a separate ordinance, according to Brodie.

For example, Brodie wrote that a family could have turtles, gerbils, mice and snakes or any other domestic animals in any combination up to 12 plus two dogs and/or cats.

“Staff has researched other cities in the metropolitan area and found that some, but not all, regulate the number of animals that allowed to be maintained,” he wrote.

“Staff believes that the proposed limitation of 12 domestic animals is reasonable in that it protects the health, safety and welfare of both the residents of the city and domestic animals themselves, but still allows residents the opportunity to maintain these permitted animals.”

Howe wanted more staff information on communities that have and don’t have similar ordinances, and the impact of those ordinances.

Councilmember Bruce Sanders also raised the issue of the keeping of chickens, which are not allowed under the city’s non-domestic animal ordinance.

Coon Rapids resident Christine Ferris appeared at a council open mik session in late July to request an ordinance amendment that would permit residents to keep chickens in the city.

In her presentation, Ferris spoke about how keeping chickens would be a benefit to residents.

Back in the early 1990s when he was first on the council, Howe recalled an issue with keeping homing pigeons and the council would not allow it.

But Councilmember Melissa Larson said that while the city may not have allowed the pigeons, the resident certainly kept them.

In setting a future work session, Howe wanted to hear from residents who might be impacted by the proposed ordinance.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]

  • Scott Nellis

    This proposed ordinance is a (bad) solution to a non-existent problem. Does the city have a problem with domestic animals being kept indoors creating a nuisance with the neighbors? Have there been any police calls to residences concerning domestic animals (other than cats or dogs)? I think not. This is just another ploy by the city to harass me. Yes, I’m the guy with all the snakes. City attorney Dave Brodie states that other cities have similar ordinances. Which ones? I checked on 16 cities surrounding Coon Rapids and Maple Grove was the only city with such an ordinance in place. Mr Brodie goes on to state that this proposed ordinance will “protect the health, safety, and welfare of both the residents of the city and the domestic animals themselves”. Really? If Mr. Brodie is so concerned about the health and welfare of the city’s residents, why not outlaw cigarette smoking in ones own house? Certainly smoking is much more harmful than any issues with domestic animals. This proposed ordinance is a clear violation of one’s individual rights guaranteed under the Constitution! Your house is your castle and any legal activities done inside your house should be protected from government interference! There are already laws protecting animals on the books at a state level. Any new laws at the city level is just more government intruding into your private home life. As it is, the city can’t or won’t enforce the ordinance against keeping non-domestic animals (except in my case) as PetCo and PetSmart of Coon Rapids STILL sell ball pythons and common boas. Residents who have bought these snakes are currently breaking the law, yet the city does nothing. This proposed ordinance is unconstitutional, arbitrary, and without scientific merit. It’s unenforceable and will no doubt make instant criminals out of many citizens.

    As far as allowing chickens in the city I say yes, by all means. If it makes someone happy to have chickens, then they should be allowed to have them within reason. Roosters would be a problem, but hens should be OK. It seems there’s a national push to “be green”. Raising your own food is one facet of the Green movement. It’s time to overhaul the “domestic/non-domestic” animal section of city code 6-500 to allow more freedom of the citizens to chose the pets that make them happy.

  • jonathan

    I like pigeon. I think as long u keep it clean. It will be ok