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Creston neighbors meet to discuss Grand Rapids's lack of pet ordinance

Creston neighbors bothered by the presence of nearly 40 dogs on one property met to discuss the need for a pet ordinance in the city.
Small dog in crate

Small dog in crate /dantetg

On June 11, neighbors in the Riverside Gardens area of Northeast Grand Rapids met in the basement of Second Congregational Church to discuss the city’s lack of a pet ordinance. Mac Brown from Creston Neighborhood Association led the discussion.

The impetus for this meeting was the suspected hoarding of animals occurring in a house on the corner of Oakwood and Comstock. This story has been reported in various media outlets locally, but at the time of this meeting the number of animals reported being on the property was 37 dogs and seven cats. Kimberly Savino, the owner of these animals, moved her dog grooming and dog rescue to Grand Rapids partly because the city has no limit on the number of pets allowed on one property.

Savino was at the meeting and would not comment on the particulars of her situation because a court case is now in process. She stated that Animal Control has been on her property numerous times to inspect and that she had never been cited for violations or cruelty. She also detailed measures she has taken so that the animals will not pose a problem or a health risk for her neighbors, including a set pattern of letting them outside and a procedure for dealing with animal waste. She said she was confident that her family would win the court case as no law had been broken and, in fact, there was no law to break regarding the number of pets allowed in a private residence in Grand Rapids.

Some of the neighbors present were concerned about the welfare of the dogs and cats involved and skeptical that so many animals could be well cared for under these circumstances. Other neighbors were weary of the noise and said they would sell their house and move if it were feasible. In general, as city residents, neighbors have to get along and tolerate each other’s life choices, but keeping forty dogs in one home is a bit different than living next to someone who needs to level up his muffler and can’t quite afford it yet, said attendees.

Brown guided the discussion towards consensus on a plan of action of what the neighbors would like to see done. Currently, the City of Grand Rapids has rules for the operation of kennels, but nothing else supervising pet ownership, which leaves a lot of leeway for individuals to interpret. Brown added that other city wards had problems with hoarding and animal abuse and neglect, and that hammering out a set of reasonable boundaries for pet ownership would benefit the city as a whole. The group reviewed ordinances on dog and cat ownership from Wyoming, Grandville, Walker and Kentwood.

The meeting closed with instructions for contacting Second Ward commissioners Ruth Kelly and Rosalynn Bliss and a recommendation that, since the wheels of progress often grind slowly, involving Grand Rapids citizens from other wards would also be encouraged.

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