City officials: Eight dogs are too many for one family

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ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) - Scott and Laurie Black of Aberdeen admit they have too many dogs, but they consider the animals family and don't think they should have to give up any of them.
City officials don't agree.
The Blacks met with the Aberdeen City Council in hopes that it would consider changing an ordinance limiting residents to three dogs, four cats or a mix of up to four animals.

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) - Scott and Laurie Black of Aberdeen admit they have too many dogs, but they consider the animals family and don't think they should have to give up any of them.

City officials don't agree.

The Blacks met with the Aberdeen City Council in hopes that it would consider changing an ordinance limiting residents to three dogs, four cats or a mix of up to four animals.

The Blacks have eight dogs and must get rid of five of them.

The family adopted a mix of five dogs before discovering they were in violation of the ordinance, Laurie Black said.

Shortly thereafter, the Blacks' newest dog had five puppies. The family couldn't find homes for three of the puppies and decided to keep them.

"It wasn't our intention to have three dogs, but to take away what we're bonded with would be devastating," Laurie said.

Black said she searched online for the city ordinance and found an earlier version that allowed six adult dogs, 10 adult cats or a total of 10 animals.

The current ordinance was adopted in 2005.

John Weaver, Aberdeen's animal control officer, was alerted to the Blacks' dogs when a neighbor complained about barking; however, Laurie said her dogs are well behaved and that the barking comes from all neighborhood dogs, not just hers.

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Whether the dogs behave or the house is kept clean, the ordinance allows only three dogs, Weaver said. Most South Dakota communities allow two to four dogs, he said.

"This case doesn't warrant a change in the law or a special exception," he said.

Geraldine Brewer, neighbor to the Blacks, said she doesn't have a problem with dogs, but living next to eight dogs is another story.

"These dogs are left outside to bark," she said. "One neighbor I talked to said they were outside for four hours and the dogs barked the entire time."

Brewer said she plans to move soon, but it may be difficult to sell a house that neighbors eight dogs.

"If you have a whole bunch of animals, you need to go live where they're not going to bother anyone," she said.

Weaver said he is willing to work with people to correct violations. But instead of making progress, the Blacks decided to keep three puppies, which almost doubled the number of dogs they owned, he said.

"Not a lot of effort has been made to get down to three dogs," Weaver said.

Laurie Black said it's not easy to break bonds with the dogs.

"If you didn't want to have anymore kids but accidentally got pregnant, would you just give that baby away?" she wrote in a letter to the city council.

The council took no action on the Blacks' request for an exemption, meaning the couple had 14 days to get rid of five dogs or the city will dispose of them.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.





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