Neighborhood dispute provoked by pit bull advocate's move
City ordinance, zoning won't allow rehabbing of dogs in residential area
There's a neighborhood dispute happening in a North Jacksonville neighborhood because local pit bull advocate Jennifer Watson wants to foster many of the animals at the home she's buying.
Watson is the President of Pit Sisters, an organization that rescues and helps find pit bull dogs loving homes. Watson wants to foster a number of the dogs at her new home off Alta Drive, but city zoning ordinances forbid it.
“This is a lot bigger than me, this is the city of Jacksonville needs to be aware of how potentially bad this could be for the animals,” said Watson.
Watson’s love for her dogs runs deep. She owns three pit bulls and wants to foster even more, eventually finding a permanent home for the dogs. City zoning laws are taking a bite out of Watson’s plans.
“If you're housing a dog in a residential area, and ultimately that dog will be exchanged for money, also known as an adoption fee, even if it's not done at your home, that's considered 'housing a dog for commercial purposes,' and that's against the ordinances,” said Watson.
Once neighbors heard of Watson’s plans, they became concerned.
“We just don’t want to have to worry about our kids out here riding their bicycles when there’s a pit bull dog adoption agency next door,” said Ricky Kerr.
Watson said she met with neighbors to calm their fears, but said the bigger problem is the city ordinance which wouldn’t just impact Watson, but the 200 other “pet placement partners” the city currently has.
"Right now, every single foster home in the city of Jacksonville in a residential district is in violation of the ordinance -- that’s a problem,” said Watson.
City Councilman John Crescimbeni met with both sides of the argument. Crescimbeni said he’s still trying to figure out if a compromise between the city and Watson can happen.
“One of the takeaways was that our city attorneys have been told to review the ordinance code and review the zoning code and figure out if there’s a way we can tweak this a little bit to allow for pet placement partners that have one or two animals, but not trip the threshold of breeders or kennels or shelters that have many, many animals that would be doing multiple adoptions on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis,” said Crescimbeni
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