Protecting man’s best friends

Animal Control

A Missoula dog shelter that’s taken in and found homes for 18 Siberian huskies over the last year was recently disbanded, and now its owner is fighting to keep his four personal pets.

Confusion over the city-county boundary led Animal Control to issue Jeff Goodner a kennel license, which allows county residents to register six to 20 dogs under one permit, says Animal Control Supervisor Ed Franceschina. With that permit, Goodner operated SiberSpace, Montana’s only husky rescue, for the last year. The shelter brought high-school students on as volunteers and placed into permanent homes dogs that otherwise would have been destroyed.

But a neighbor’s noise complaint caused Animal Control officials to look again at Goodner’s license, and they discovered his property line butts against the city-county boundary, and lies just within city limits. That discovery invalidated his kennel license and means Goodner must satisfy city code.

City ordinance restricts residents to owning two dogs, unless they go through the process to obtain a multiple dog permit. Franceschina says only a handful of Missoulians have those permits, despite his hunch that many more keep two-plus pups.

“We don’t have the resources or the inclination to peek over fences and see how many dogs there are, so we usually find out when neighbors make complaints,” Franceschina says.

Goodner says he’s not fighting to keep the rescue up and running: “Even if we won, the atmosphere would be so poisonous it wouldn’t be worth it.” But he is adamant his four personal huskies not be forced to leave. That battle brought him to a May 2 Animal Control board hearing, where officials postponed ruling on whether to issue Goodner’s permit since neighbors thought he was trying to keep the rescue, not just his pets. Franceschina says another hearing will occur later in May. If Goodner doesn’t succeed there he can and will appeal the decision to City Council.

“They’re part of our family and it’s just something we’re not willing to budge on,” he says. “There are millions of homeless dogs in the world and we just want to care for these four—I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”


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