Faith Kilburn and 9 of her 21 Shih TzusFaith Kilburn of Walbridge Road, West Hartford, CT, has lost her appeal to keep all of her dogs. Faith has 21 Shih Tzus and by all accounts they are very well taken care of, her home is clean and the dogs are not a bother or hindrance to anyone. Some of the dogs are older and infirm. The ruling will force her to reduce the number of dogs from 21 to 3.

Now I admit to having very mixed feeling on this. On one hand, 21 dogs is an awful lot of dogs for one person to have but on the other, all the dogs are well cared for and she’s not hurting or bothering anyone, what’s the problem?

Yes, I understand zoning and laws but I also understand already overpopulated shelters and too many dogs out there in need of homes and here’s this woman loving and caring for these dogs and doing no harm and she’s being told to pick 18 of her dogs and get rid of them.

Kilburn said many of her dogs require constant care, which would make it even more difficult to place them outside her home. Most require daily eye drops, several are going deaf, and at least one is going blind, she said. ‘They’re my life,’ Kilburn said. ‘I delivered those dogs. I’m the only person they know, besides my parents. Who’s going to take care of these dogs the way I can?’

The town granted Kilburn a special permit in December 2004 for 22 dogs but gave her two years to reduce the number of Shih Tzus living under her roof. Since then one dog died of natural causes reducing the number from 22 to 21. In December 2006 when the permit expired she requested another permit but was denied.

Manchester lawyer Danielle Omasta filed an appeal in Superior Court in Hartford on Kilburn’s behalf . Pat Alair, West Hartford‘s deputy corporation counsel, said, ‘We believe the decision of the plan and zoning commission is legal and appropriate, and we will, of course, defend it.’

Kilburn, 63, who shares home with her 87-year-old mother, said media attention to her plight has sparked more letters, e-mails and phone calls – from throughout Connecticut and New England, and as far off as Arizona – in support of her retaining custody of her 11 male and 11 female pets. ‘She’s clearly a special example of someone who cares for those pets as well as her elderly mother,’ Omasta said.

And now the state court has ruled against Kilburn, the decision was delivered to her this week. She has 20 days to appeal.

“We’re extremely disappointed that it was not in our favor,” Kilburn’s lawyer, Danielle B. Omasta, said Tuesday. “We’re evaluating our options.”

The ruling does not impose fines or set a date by which Kilburn must move 18 of the dogs out of her house.

But the town intends to enforce the directive and has the power to levy daily fines if Kilburn is in violation after the appeal period, officials said. The town could issue citations with fines and fees of $43 a day for the first five days, $103 a day for the next 10 days and $192 a day thereafter, according to the town.

“Obviously we’re pleased with the result. We’re pleased the court agreed with us. It’s unfortunate it had to come to this, and we hope that the plaintiff abides by the decision of the court promptly,” said Patrick Alair, the town’s deputy corporation counsel.

“When the appeal period expires, we will commence enforcing our ordinances according to the letter of the law,” he said. (Courant)

And why is the town pushing this? The commission found that the keeping of 22 dogs in the house was not appropriate or in harmony with the residential neighborhood, that’s why. “Not appropriate or in harmony with the residential neighborhood,” this makes no sense to me. This whole thing started three years ago over a complaint from one neighbor’s worry about their property values being diminished but there are no other complaints beyond that and most of the neighbors say let her keep the dogs.

If you read the comments attached the the news story, you will find people weighing in on both sides but an overwhelming number of people definitely support Kilburn and there has even been a petition started asking to allow her to keep her dogs.

I guess I am weighing in with the people saying to let her keep the dogs, even added my name to the petition. With the amount of animal cruelty and neglect that goes on everyday, with the serious overpopulation of dogs and overwhelmingly burdened shelters, here is a woman who cares for her furbabies, who loves them and nurtures them. By all accounts they are a problem to no one, let her keep her dogs! What would become of those she would have to get rid of? Older dogs, sick and infirm dogs? There’s not enough homes for all the dogs out there as it is, why add more??

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