LAYTON — After a year of living back home with her parents, Julie Erskine is being forced to move if she wants to keep her “babies,” Max and Huneez.
Huneez, a palm-sized Pomeranian/Shih Tzu mix, and Max, a 10-year-old miniature Doberman Pinscher, bring the number of registered pets living in the home of her father, J.B. Mooney, to four — two more than Layton city’s ordinance allows.
Mooney, who owns two Shih Tzus — Benji and Cassie — recently petitioned the Layton City Council for a temporary waiver on his daughter’s behalf to allow the family to have four registered dogs at the residence until his wife and he relocate to a city with a lower elevation.
Linda Mooney, Erskine’s mother, has COP, a rapidly developing pneumonialike respiratory illness.
But the council denied the Oct. 18 request, which in turn gives Erskine until Nov. 17 to either get rid of her dogs or be fined $175 for being noncompliant and have the dogs taken away and destroyed.
“They gave me 30 days from last week,” said Erskine, who was notified they were in violation of the city’s pet ordinance after a citation was left on the front door of her parents’ home.
The rationale behind the council’s decision was to avoid setting precedent, Layton Mayor Steve Curtis said. “If you do it for this cause, you have to do it for that cause,” he said.
What is so frustrating, Erskine said, is that moving out of her parents’ home at this time presents an emotional hardship on her father — who is trying to care for her mother while her health fails — as well as placing an economic hardship on her to come up with the first and last months’ rent for a new place.
“It will be an expensive move,” said Erskine, who works at Davis Hospital.
Erskine said she suspects a neighbor must have called the city or Davis County Animal Control Services to complain about the dogs.
Her parents’ home has a fenced-in back and front yard, Erskine said, so it is possible all four dogs were seen together while out in the front yard.
Lately, the dogs have also been barkers, Erskine said, something she attributes to some students who walk past their home teasing the animals.
She said she bought collars that are designed to prevent a dog from barking, but the collars have only reduced the barking, not eliminated it.
Erskine said she regularly gives to animal rescue organizations that request money to help care for abused and neglected animals. She said her dog Max is a rescued animal.
“And then they tell you to get rid of them,” she said.
“It’s a sad situation. Our hearts go out to those pet owners,” Davis County Animal Services Director Clint Thacker said.
But it’s the county’s job to enforce the animal ordinances Layton has on its books, which includes the limitation of two registered dogs per household, Thacker said.
The county in January 2012 did adopt a new countywide ordinance allowing cities to have as many as three registered pets per household, but the county ordinance has not been adopted in its entirety by Layton.
“They didn’t want three animals; they stuck to two," he said.
Thacker said he is not privy to what city councils are granting when it comes to variances on the number of pets allowed per household. But he said he is unaware of any city council in the county having granted such a variance to a resident.