Planning Commission reaffirms support of dog rescue activists

SILVER SPRINGS - Owners of an animal rescue facility this week received their second vote of confidence in two months from county officials.

On Nov. 18, just days after the Lyon County Planning Commission refused to pursue an animal nuisance complaint and renewed the annual special use permit for the Silver Springs Spay-Neuter Project, Tom and Lee Blomquist were presented a second citation from the Animal Control Department. Adjacent neighbor Linda Riley initiated both complaints.

Appearing at Tuesday's planning meeting, Riley said the dogs begin barking at 10 p.m. every night and are disrupting her ability to sleep.

"I get no sleep at all. The dogs bark very loudly. I don't believe they (Blomquist's) are at home," she told the board. "I do have the home up for sale. I can't even bring my elderly parent to the home to care for because the dogs are barking every night. He is doing a wonderful thing, but does it need to be downtown?"

The Blomquists claim Riley is exaggerating the situation and the project has the support of the community. They have also charged that animal control officers are harassing them. County Commissioner Chet Hillyard and several Silver Springs residents have submitted letters in support of that belief.

"Only three of the dogs are out at night, the rest sleep in the house. I work days and am home evenings. Tom is home during the day," Lee Blomquist said. "They (Rileys) knew we were here when they bought the house. The prior owners even gave us letters of support when they lived there. When the audience was polled at the recent town advisory board meeting, no one spoke against us."

Upon being notified by the Blomquists of the second citation, Deputy District Attorney Leon Aberasturi told Animal Control officers not to file the court copy of the citation. And since the Blomquists operate under a special use permit, he also instructed Animal Control to forward all future reports concerning the dogs to the planning commission.

Noting the number of supportive letters, Tom Blomquist told the board, "These letters are from people we hate to have to bother. Many are elderly and ill." He claimed some of those writing in opposition were tricked and forced into writing their letters.

Writing in support, Bob and Vanessa Stuart pointed out that the Blomquist property is fully fenced and, "on the front in full view of the road is a sign advertising your community service project. This sign was on your fence long before the Rileys purchased their property."

Planning Commissioner Jan Hunewill suggested several mitigation possibilities, including keeping all the dogs inside at night and debarking. "It would be good if you could move. You do good things."

Making the motion to renew the special permit, Commissioner Ray Johnson noted the community has its fair share of barking dogs.

"Eliminating the Blomquists is not going to stop barking dogs. I'm sorry, but I do not see a compromise here."

The motion passed 6-1.

Tom Blomquist said it is their goal to move from the one-third acre residential site on Fort Churchill Street to a five-acre site outside of the community.

"We are taking no new dogs. I have five jobs. I'm trying to come up with the money to move. We have the property. The well is in."

Commenting following the meeting, Tom said that goal is getting closer, with financing for a 130-foot by 80-foot commercial building on the horizon.


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