How many dogs, how many cats? Lafayette plan: No limit

Lafayette ready to scrap the 3+3 rule on dog and cat ownership. Commissioner Dave Byers’ ‘Grand Illusion’ at the revamped county fairgrounds. Purdue trustees about to vote on a civics grad requirement

Lafayette is considering lifting the three dog/three cat rule, which limited the number of pets a household may keep. A revised ordinance would remove the limits and base issues on care and conduct rather than a raw number. (Photo: Dave Bangert)

Some of this, more that on a Friday morning …

For ages, that standard for cat or dog ownership in Lafayette came down to a “three and three” standard.

Three dogs. Three cats. No more.

New rules proposed by the city, part of a larger revision of Lafayette’s animal control ordinance, would get rid of those limits.

If approved in July by the Lafayette City Council, someone could keep more than the current three-and-three limit, as long as they’re cared for and don’t warrant complaints that bring around animal control officers.

The council is scheduled to vote a second and final time on the animal control ordinance at its July meeting. Council members voted unanimously for the ordinance changes Monday night.

“It’s less of a focus on a figurative number and focuses more on care and conduct,” Josh Klumpe, the city’s chief animal control officer, told council members.

Comparison: West Lafayette has no set limit on the number of dogs or cats someone may own. Tippecanoe County commissioners, in a revision of its animal control ordinance in 2019, decided against limits, too.

Jacque Chosnek, the city attorney, said she, Klumpe and others worked through language in the ordinance to simplify and clarify situations animal control officers had come across since the rules were updated three years ago.

“Having these items clearly defined will assist animal control in their role of enforcing our ordinances by eliminating any of that uncertainty regarding the expected level of care,” Chosnek said.

Here are some of the changes.

DOG AND CAT LIMITS: For the record, this is the section coming out of Lafayette’s city code:

“It is unlawful to keep or harbor more than three dogs and three cats beyond the age of weaning in any dwelling unit, structure or property. Animals found in violation of this section may be impounded as set forth in Chapter 10.08.”

Strike that, pending final approval.

ANIMAL HOARDING DEFINED … AND PROHIBITED: Council member Perry Brown asked Klumpe if getting rid of the limits would encourage people raising 10 dogs in their yard, “so folks right next door couldn’t enjoy their own backyard.”

Klumpe said that would fall under the city’s proposed definition of hoarding – followed by outlawing the practice in the updated animal ordinance.

The definition: “‘Animal hoarding’ means (1) collecting animals or failing to provide them with adequate shelter and care, (2) collecting dead animals that are not properly disposed of, and/or (3) collecting housing or harboring animals in filthy, unsanitary conditions that constitute a health hazard to the animals being kept, to the individual(s) residing at the property, or to the animals or residents of an adjacent property.”

PET LICENSES: GONE: Lafayette’s current ordinance requires the owners of dogs or cats older than five months must register the pet at the city clerk’s office. The fee: $5 annually for spayed or neutered pets, $40 for unaltered dogs or cats.

Bet you didn’t realize that. Or did and didn’t bother making the trip to city hall each year for a new tag.

The proposed ordinance is an attempt to line up with that reality, Chosnek said.

“We have very few animals that are actually licensed in the city,” Chosnek said. “So, in lieu of that, we instituted something that requires that the animal have some means of identification so that the owner can be easily identified.”

That proposed provision:

“Identification Required. A person that owns a dog or cat within the city shall ensure that each dog or cat bears a means of identification at all times, such that the owner of a lost or stolen dog or cat can be ascertained quickly and easily.”

ADEQUATE SPACE, SHELTER, SANITARY CONDITIONS DEFINED: The proposed ordinance attempts to quantify what counts as adequate water, food and shelter for pets. It also lays out what counts as “unsanitary conditions” for the first time, making it less subjective for animal control officers, Chosnek said.

Here it is:

“Unsanitary conditions” means animal housing or quarters, including exercise areas, that are contaminated by health hazards, irritants, items or conditions that endanger or pose a risk to an animal’s health, including, but not limited to:

1. Excessive animal waste, garbage and trash;

2.  Standing water or mud;

3.  Rancid/contaminated food or water;

4.  Fumes, foul or noxious odor, hazardous chemicals or poisons;

5.  Decaying material;

6.  Uncontrolled parasite or rodent infestation; or

7.  Areas that contain nails, screws, broken glass, broken boards, pits, poisons, sharp implements or other items that could cause injury, illness or death to an animal.

THE FULL PROPOSED ORDINANCE: Read it here.


New fairgrounds: A ‘Grand Illusion’?

Walking into a new, pristine, air-conditioned Coliseum at the Tippecanoe County 4-H Fairgrounds, with bleachers pulled out to hold more than 1,000 people, was something, as county commissioners, 4-H leaders and more held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday.

But what was with Commissioner Dave Byers’ entrance song during the event?

The opening fanfare of “Grand Illusion,” a 1977 prog-rock radio hit by Styx, to open a place that will get its first real workout at July’s county fair? What the …?

“What, you didn’t like that?” Byers laughed after a round of speeches and the giant scissors bit at the 30,000-square-foot centerpiece of a nearly $21 million fairgrounds renovation.

“I told my wife, ‘That’s it, that’s the song I want.’ And that’s what we did,’” Byers, a dairy farmer, said. “I mean, listen, it’s been like a grand illusion for a while with this whole thing. This is 12 years of getting here. It’s real. But it almost doesn’t feel like it.”

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Conversations about taking out aging barns and buildings – including the venerable former Coliseum, which came down after last year’s fair – at the fairgrounds on Teal Road started a dozen years ago. Buy-in was slow, between hesitation about letting go of the past and a drawn-out consideration about whether to move out of the middle of Lafayette and into a space with more room in the county. The Lafayette spot, in place since 1871 when the initial 60 acre-site was considered the outskirts of the city, won.

“My big thing was, sure, this is the fairgrounds,” Byers said. “But the fair is, what, two weeks out of the year, all included? We have 50 other weeks. Let’s get something we can use.”

County officials outlined a list of non-fair trade shows, meetings and the like coming soon. While Byers was telling about his “Grand Illusion,” Michael Budd, CEO of the United Way of Greater Lafayette, told the commissioner about hopes of holding the nonprofit’s annual kickoff at the fairgrounds.

So, maybe the Styx walk-up song was a tip to concerts coming at some point? The Coliseum is set up to do it.

“That’s the real thing about this place,” Byers said. “It’s here for the whole community. Let’s fill up that calendar.”

Paging Tommy Shaw …


On tap today: Purdue and a civics education graduation requirement

Purdue trustees, meeting Friday in West Lafayette, are expected to put their stamp on a civics education graduation requirement they’ve been pressing to get since January 2019.

That’s when Purdue President Mitch Daniels asked the faculty-led University Senate to consider a test of some sort – maybe like the one given during the naturalization process – to make sure Purdue grads leave campus with a basic understanding of U.S. government and history. At the time, he’d hoped the faculty would sign off on something ready for incoming classes in the fall 2019 semester.

Two years later – as faculty leaders continued to wrangle over the details, including whether the specifics hit the mark or whether a test could ever really prove a grad was civics-ready – trustees announced in April that they’d go ahead with a civics education plan developed by a select group of political science and communication faculty members.

Trustees warned all along that they wouldn’t wait forever. They made no bones about it: They were fans of the idea. That it would be another way to differentiate Purdue graduates heading out into the world.

Among the criteria laid out in April, students, starting this fall, will have to pass a civic literacy test – which trustees said was “currently undergoing validation and analysis” – and take one of three paths before graduation:

  • Attending six approved civics-related events.

  • Completing 12 podcasts created by the Purdue Center for C-SPAN Scholarship and Engagement that use C-SPAN material.

  • Completing one of a set of 13 approved courses in history, communication or political science.

You can read the full plan, as preliminarily rolled out by trustees in April and in a university-approved release, here.

Whether any of that has changed or been refined heading into a vote Friday isn’t clear. Purdue officials declined to release details when asked this week about the specifics of the trustees’ proposal. (Trustees rarely do, on any topic, ahead of a board meeting. Which is a conversation for another time.)

Purdue’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, which waged a letter-writing campaign in protest of a graduation requirement that didn’t get a formal, affirmative vote from University Senate, was grumbling about that this week.

In a tweet Wednesday, the organization wrote: “the (Board of Trustees) of @LifeAtPurdue will only share the proposal re: grad requirement AFTER the BOT votes. Where does lack of transparency fit within civics literacy education, (Provost) @JayAkridge? #facultydecide”

The trustees’ meeting starts at 8:30 a.m. in Stewart Center and will be livestreamed.

Let’s see where this one winds up.

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