The Franklin Lakes Council will soon consider a new ordinance limiting the number of domestic animals residents can keep in their homes.
Borough Animal Control Officer Carol Tyler, of Tyco Animal Control, recommended that the council adopt an ordinance that would limit residents to seven pets per home, similar to one in Montvale. Which was upheld by a Superior Court judge in 2010, according to a NorthJersey.com report.
According to Tyler, there have been numerous complaints from neighbors and tips from police, EMTs and firefighters about unsanitary conditions involving pets in Franklin Lakes homes since she began working for the borough six years ago. A new ordinance would make it easier to control these issues and cut down on litigation, she said.
"An ordinance would make our job much simpler and would actually be more cost effective for this borough," Tyler said.
In Franklin Lakes, Tyler said she has found a doctor with 40 animals living in one house, one home that had six poorly-controlled dogs that resulted in a dog bite — the suit is still ongoing — and another house that had "quite a few German shepherds in it."
Tyler said the issues are often people with large numbers of animals who cannot care for all of their pets as they get older. Neighbors complain more because houses are built closer together than they used to be, so the problems are more evident.
"This isn't the town it used to be when you had about 50 percent farms and 50 percent households," Tyler said. "Properties are a lot smaller."
In one Phelps Road home, Tyler claims there are still 20 animals, including an emu, on the property.
According to Tyler, she and Board of Health officials have been unable to take much action in that case because of legal disputes between family members over who owns the property.
In a 2007 meeting of the Franklin Lakes Board of Health, Inspector Marjorie Vanacore described a visit to the home, during which she found the inside of the garage caked with pigeon droppings and the ground in the backyard was "spongy" because it was covered in rabbit droppings.
A woman answering the door at the Phelps Road home on Thursday said she would not speak to a reporter.
The proposed ordinance would only affect domestic animals, which include non-exotic pets such as cats and dogs. Poultry, including emus, fall under the jurisdiction of the USDA, though Franklin Lakes does require residents to register their poultry.
Tyler suggested that the council limit homes to seven pets each, though the final number may be different. She also suggested they include a provision that would allow police to collect fees incured from late night calls at the time of the incident. Tyco charges the borough $60 for any cases that occur after 7:30 p.m., and currently the borough pays the fee and then must get the money back from the homeowner.
Borough Administrator Gregory Hart said he would write a draft of the potential ordinance for the council to discuss at their February work session.