Last night was our time to address the village planning board about our request for a special permit to keep three dogs. In our town, the limit is two. Bailey needed special permission to stay.
The building inspector/animal control boss had given us a little leeway on getting that approval if we were looking for a home for Bailey, but since it seemed like she was getting settled in with us and we were getting settled in with her, it made sense to find out sooner rather than later if we were going to have permission for her to stay.
Just in case she didn’t find a home. You know. I mean, really, I was looking for a home for her. Honest.
In my application to the planning board, I had given lots of information about our dogs, their training, our commitment to being good dog owners and good neighbors, blah blah blah. So when I went to the meeting I didn’t really know what to expect what additional information they might need.
We got there early; since we were the only ones on the agenda, we were the only ones there other than the board, who apparently prior to a meeting spend some time catching up on town stuff. Very casual and very lighthearted, thankfully. So when the chairman called me to the podium to present I was less nervous than I thought I would be.
Until I realized that I didn’t really know what I was supposed to present. So I kind of just gave a little history of how Bailey came to us and why we needed permission to keep her. Then the board members asked some questions, nothing major, just things like is our yard enclosed, do our neighbors mind, etc.
I mentioned the chickens, which threw at least one board member for a loop, and raised a bit of discussion about why I have chickens. Poor Larry, the building inspector. I drive him nuts. He put his head in his hands, said that I needed to learn the “don’t ask, don’t tell” lesson and assured the board that yes, I was approved for the chickens, and that it wasn’t part of this application.
Oops. Well, I had told them my life was an open book so they could ask about anything.
After every member had a chance to ask a question, someone made a motion to give us a one year permit to be reviewed in a year and extended as long as there are no problems. Someone seconded it, and yay! Bailey can stay!
As I walked away, one member did ask, as an afterthought, if our dogs were licensed. Yes, they are (and I’m glad I had checked, because there had been some confusion about Scout’s license after the change in January from state to village licensing; I think the record missed being transferred) but it made me wonder if the board had done any background checking on us. I did provide a lot of information in my application letter, but these are the things I wanted them to consider – for me and for other people requesting the same thing:
- Are the dogs licensed?
- Are the dogs current on their rabies shots and other vaccinations?
- Are the dogs spayed/neutered?
- Is our yard fenced/enclosed or otherwise equipped to keep the dogs on our property?
- Have we engaged in basic obedience classes for all of the dogs?
The reasoning, from an animal welfare/good neighbor perspective anyway, is:
- A dog owner who doesn’t spay or neuter and adds a third dog to a household increases significantly the chances of unwanted puppies.
- If a dog owner won’t invest in at least one round of basic obedience classes, it shows their dogs likely aren’t properly socialized and the owner is likely not equipped to handle problems that could be a problem to neighbors – like barking, roaming, or aggression – before they become problems.
- An owner that doesn’t keep his dogs up to date on vaccinations likely isn’t going to handle basic health issues, either from innocent ignorance or outright stupidity, that would affect the health and well-being of their dog and family. (Did you know, for example, that by not picking up the poop in your yard you put your dogs and humans at risk for picking up icky parasites and other gross stuff that’s left in the dirt in your yard?)
- And a dog owner who doesn’t license their dog isn’t likely to obey basic dog laws, like picking up the poop while out for a walk or keeping their dog leashed.
I also mentioned that I would love to volunteer to work with the village animal control if they ever wanted to do education for village residents on dogs, dog training, etc.
When we got home I asked David what the board’s decision meant to him, and he said he guessed it meant that we were covered “either way,” meaning we had permission to keep Bailey until she found a home. Then he added that at some point we’d have to make a decision about whether to keep her. I said that’s what I thought had just happened. But I told him to think about it for a day or so, because he didn’t sound so sure.
He said a little while later that he would be very sad if Bailey left and he didn’t really want her to go, which he guessed means he wants her to stay. I asked him if he was sure, and he said he thinks so. (The key to marriage: clear communication.) I’ll ask him again in a day or two and see if I get the same answer.
So that was a long story about how the way was cleared for Bailey to become a permanent member of the family. Now we talk to the rescue about spaying, etc.
Not that she knows anything different. She’s happily part of the pack, and while I don’t know if Scout and Bandit would have wanted this three months ago, everyone seems to have adjusted quite nicely. Much more easily, I confess, than I ever expected.