Hindsight is 20/20

To the Editor:

I am sure that most of you have read the Independence City Council and Planning Commission meeting minutes about the number of dogs on my property. In the 10 years that I have owned these dogs I have only had one official complaint about barking which occurred on Aug. 8.

I had more than the three dogs allowed without a kennel license. Therefore, I applied for one. My intent was to be able to keep the dogs that were there to live out their days while allowing the number to decrease to three. After two commission meetings and two council meetings, I was denied a conditional use permit, which stays with the property and an interim use permit, which stays with me. The Council reasoned that I still had not done enough, even with electric shock bark collars on the dogs to keep them quiet. Neighbors with the biggest complaints did not attend the council meeting so the decision was based on what was said at the commission meeting.

There was discussion back and forth as to what to do. They had never had this situation before and the city attorney basically left the decision up to the council. It decided that “because I did not do enough to quiet my dogs” that I would have to re-home five of them within nine months.

How do you choose? Since the meeting I have re-homed two dogs, three dogs have perspective homes, one dog will be a little harder to place because he has special needs. I am not denying that I have nine dogs and knew that it was too many. Unfortunately, it will be my dogs that suffer the most. Four of them were born on the property and two of them have lived most of their lives here. For me it will be like sending my children away.

For the city, the council needs to come up with clear consequences for people who have more than three dogs without a license and not make it up as they go. It was stated multiple times that they had never had this situation before and there is nothing under City Ordinance 910.09 regarding consequences for having more than three dogs without a license. I gave the city planner a copy of guidelines that Cokato Township had given a friend of mine in the same situation. She pretty much has an interim use permit with provisions. Whether the Independence Council had that information I don’t know, but it might have helped them come to a more informed decision and I might not be losing part of my family.

Deb Peterson