Johnson Lane woman seeks change to dog ordinance |

Johnson Lane woman seeks change to dog ordinance

by Christy Chalmers, Staff Writer

By having four pet dogs, Johnson Lane resident Dorothy Weeks Foster is breaking the law.

She’s already been to court and paid a $25 fine. Now she wants county leaders to consider changing the law so residents can keep four dogs instead of three.

“There are plenty of people in this county that have more than three dogs and don’t even know the law exists,” said Foster. “What’s one more dog? That’s not an astronomical amount.”

The Douglas County Commission is scheduled to hear Foster’s request Thursday.

Foster decided to take her case to the county after she pleaded guilty in East Fork Justice Court and was warned she could face more sanctions if she doesn’t give up one of the dogs.

“These dogs are members of my family,” said Foster, who is married and has two daughters. “It’s not like you can pick one and say ‘go.'”

The dogs include Devil Dog, a male Dalmation, Buster, a golden retriever, and Sierra and Serena, sister chocolate labs. The family has lived on a .75-acre lot on North Santa Barbara Drive for four years.

Foster thinks the county ordinance is unfair because people can anonymously report infractions. She says animal control officers told her they were keeping a log of complaints about barking, but no one has approached her directly to complain about the dogs.

“It’s selectively enforced, and I don’t think that’s right,” said Foster.

Animal Control Supervisor Rhonda Moore said officers generally cite people in violation of the three-dog rule based on complaints.

“We don’t act on it unless we have a complaint on it,” she said. “I wouldn’t say it’s something we see all the time.”

She predicted an increase in the number of dogs allowed would result in more complaints about barking dogs.

“Barking is a huge problem. A lot of times that (complaints about barking) happens with a higher number of dogs,” said Moore.

Foster thinks the complaints about her dogs were personal retaliation by her neighbors. She said earlier complaints about three chickens the family was keeping resulted in new homes for the birds, which was disappointing to her youngest daughter because one of the chickens was hatched from an egg in a kindergarten classroom.

“I can’t ask her to give up one of her dogs,” said Foster. “That’s why I’m taking this to the county commission.”

What: Douglas County Commission considers the number of dogs residents can keep

When: Thursday, 1 p.m.

Where: old courthouse, 1616 Eighth St., Minden