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Sebastopol bans animals from municipal meetings

You may be cute, but you're no longer welcome at Sebastopol City Council meetings.


The city of Sebastopol, which prides itself on its reputation for inclusiveness, has banned animals from municipal meetings.

“We have had some meetings where we have had a dog present, and just sitting there I was thinking it is inappropriate to have animals at a council meeting,” City Manager Jack Griffin said.

Griffin said it is the first such policy in Sonoma County.

It’s a precautionary measure that was prompted by a small lap dog that was held by an audience member at two recent City Council meetings, each time without incident.

The policy was adopted Tuesday during a joint meeting of the City Council and Community Development Agency. It would ban all animals except service dogs or dogs in service training at all public meeting, including the City Council, city commissions and agencies.

“I do see a liability problem for the city,” said Councilman Guy Wilson, an attorney. “I think ordinary prudence would see us limiting it to only service animals.”

The policy passed on a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Larry Robinson opposing it and City Councilwoman Linda Kelley absent.

“We have had goats, we have had cats, we have had dogs at meetings with no problems,” Robinson said. “I think it would be out of character for Sebastopol to ban animals. Where we have had problems is more with people.”

4 Responses to “Sebastopol bans animals from municipal meetings”

  1. -V- says:

    No more animals. I guess that leaves only vegetables and minerals. Lucky we’re not in short supply of either.

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  2. Tess says:

    Why wouldn’t the council want audience members who are all ears but can’t talk?

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  3. Watch Pup says:

    I’m surprised the council had time to waste on effecting an unnecessary ban. There are plenty of existing problems to deal with — why did the city manager go looking to “solve” an anticipated problem? Ridiculous.

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  4. Michael says:

    I must say I’m surprised that this wasn’t already the rule. There are so many good reasons to ban them and I can’t think of any reasons why they should be allowed (aside from service dogs obviously).

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