Village proposes limiting number of dogs per household

By Brianna Owczarzak & Alana Holland

St. Charles, Michigan (WNEM) -- What would you do if your community imposed a limit on how many dogs you're allowed to own?

Leaders of a Mid-Michigan community are considering this, saying too many dogs in one household can become a nuisance.

For some, the sound of dogs barking is a warm welcome home. But to others it's a nuisance. It's that nuisance that has prompted the village of St. Charles to try and limit the amount of dogs one can own.

"It sucks. People just don't like dogs," said Robert Hensel, dog owner.

The planning commission of the village has proposed an ordinance to limit the number of dogs residents can own to three dogs per household.

That proposal is not sitting well with many dog owners in the area.

"I think they should have as many dogs as they want as long as they're under control in their own yards and are being taken care of," said Cindy Bauer, dog owner.

Some owners worry if the ordinance passes they will be forced to give up part of their family.

"Devastating. These are our kids. And we love them and we raised them up basically since pups," Hensel said.

Village Manager Matthew Lane said that's simply not true.

"If you have more than three dogs now, you won't have to get rid of them. You just won't be allowed to replace them once the dogs you have have passed away," Lane said.

He said the goal behind the proposed ordinance is to control people who have lots of dogs and don't take care of them, but also for noise control.

"There's a number of areas in the village where dogs are highly populated and they bark. It's a domino effect," Lane said.

Many residents said limiting the number of dogs per household is not the best way to try and meet those goals.

"I mean, they're your pets. Your pets are like your family. As long as they're taken care of, I don't see an issue with it," Bauer said.

Other residents are for the ordinance.

"Noisy and stinky. Lot of dog waste. Just terrible," said Charlie Bussinger, resident.

He said he lives next door to dozens of dogs, about 40 of them by his count. The large amount of dogs spread out over just a few neighbors is something he is fed up with.

"The evaluation here are down because of this. I talked to three different realtors and they said you'd lose 15 to 20 percent because of it," Bussinger said.

He said his neighbors breed puppies and he is sick of all the noise and smell that comes with it.

That is why he is encouraging the ordinance.

Lane said he has heard a lot of response to the proposal, both for and against it.

"It has a lot to do with how dogs interact with each other and if there's complaints of barking, smell of waste that come from homes with a lot of animals," Lane said.

Bussinger said he doesn't hate dogs. He even has one himself. But he said his neighbors have just too many dogs.

He is not the only neighbor who has had enough with living near that many dogs.

"I think there should be a limit on how many they should have. I don't think someone should have six, eight, 10 dogs. It's not the right place for it," said Orrin Jackson, resident.

Bussinger said the ordinance is a good way to reduce the dog population in neighborhoods, but still thinks there will be problems.

"It's a start. But what's to prevent them from not sneaking a few in there," he said.

Before the proposal could go into effect the village council would have to hold a public meeting. Lane said that is still probably months away.

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