Oak Forest aldermen broke out their red pens and took to the Oak Forest animal control ordinance to make several revisions during the council's regular meeting March 12.
The revisions, which were presented by Police Chief Greg Anderson, were:
- adding the definition of a 'competent person,'
- increasing boarding fees from $10 to $20,
- the addition of pot-bellied pigs as domestic animals,
- the addition of a motor vehicle provision to the cruelty to animals section,
- the removal of duplicate language and changes to the 'right of entry' provision.
“I took the opportunity to go ahead and review the animal control ordinance and make some needed changes to it,” Anderson said. “It's certainly not a complete rewrite.”
The ordinance review came at the request of an alderman who has a resident living in their ward with a pot-bellied pig, Anderson said.
The ordinance revisions were passed after a lengthy exchange between aldermen about the wording of one specific change, which ultimately was deleted from the ordinance and will be revisited at a later date.
The wording, which deals with police and animal control officer's 'right of entry,' reads as follows:
“For the purpose of carrying out the provision of this chapter, a police officer, animal control officer or any other City official charged with enforcing this code, may enter upon private premises the purposes of investigating a complaint of either an actual or suspected violation, to determine compliance or noncompliance with this Ordinance or to apprehend an at-large animal, a dangerous animal, or an animal infected with rabies.”
The wording sparked a debate among aldermen as to if officers would be able to go into residents' homes to apprehend animals, something some aldermen thought was unnecessary.
“I think this is a bad idea putting this in the ordinance at this time,” Ald. Chuck Toland said.
Toland's opinion was echoed by Ald. Dan Ensing and Rich Simon, who both were opposed to giving officers such power.
Despite the concerns, Anderson said that it would take emergency circumstances to allow a officer to enter a home and that it was meant to allow officers to enter a yard, but not a home.
“This does not allow an animal control officer, a police officer or anybody else with the city, to go in and look for anything without the resident's permission,” he said. “This would not give us the authority to do that in any way, shape or form.”
Although Anderson and Ald. Peter Muscarella voiced their disapproval for removing the wording from the ordinance, the passage was removed from the final, approved ordinance and will be revisited at a later date.
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