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‘Dog days’ continue at Smithfield City Council

September 29th, 2013 Posted in Opinion

By Addison M. T. Hall

SMITHFIELD — The City Council met Wednesday for several public hearings, most of which had been discussed at the Planning and Zoning Commission the week before. Resident Chris Biggs requested a permit for a dog kennel at his home so he could own up to three dogs. The permit had previously been denied by planning and zoning commission.

The council had already seen Biggs’s yard, and some had heard him speak at the commission meeting. The terms set by the commission were that Biggs needed to have a secure fence built and have a better environment for the dogs before the kennel permit could be granted. Councilman Jeffrey Barnes said neither of these requirements had been fulfilled.

“The west fence, I’m concerned about,” Barnes said. “You can see where the dogs have been under the fence. And that doesn’t look like a very secure fence. One of your neighbors said they saw this mastiff pull a board off of there to get through.”

Biggs said he’d discussed making a cement barrier to keep his dogs from digging under the fence and claims the mastiff hasn’t ever left his yard.

Barnes also said the dog scared him when he went to survey the house. “I was up there and the whole time I was there, wherever I was at, that dog knew,” he said. “I’m quite a ways away from it and that dog is still looking for me with its head up over your fence, and it barked the entire time.”

Biggs said the dog was a deterrent, but the council said its incessant bark would stop neighbors from going into their own backyards. Biggs said he would never willingly get rid of the large dog.

“The dog’s registered to the city,” Biggs said. “I don’t mean to act rude or be rude about anything. I’m just trying to get the French bulldog into my house; the other two dogs are staying regardless because I have that right.”

Barnes said Biggs had the right to own the dogs but not to let them bark whenever anyone was nearby because other residents were getting upset by it. Biggs said the neighbors were complaining to harass him personally and were calling the police for no reason.

Related story: Council aftermath: Neighbors speak out about dogs

Some of Biggs’s neighbors stood before the council to speak about the problems they’ve been having with the dogs.

Paul Thomas, who lives directly east of Biggs, said he’d been in arguments with Biggs because of the dogs breaking out and their droppings being left all over the yard. Steve Fillmore, a neighbor two houses west of Biggs, said the family that moved in between him and Biggs already had trouble with the mastiff.

“The dogs were in her yard,” Fillmore said. “She came out there; she’s concerned for her little kids and I don’t blame her. The dog’s been in my yard too.” Fillmore said the fences in between Biggs’s house and the family’s house were the weakest ones, and the mastiff could easily break them off and get out.

“I worry about the safety of the kids,” Fillmore said. “We don’t need dogs like that running in our neighborhood.”

The council concluded that Biggs needed to further change his yard by adding a higher and stronger fence and control the dogs he already has before granting him a permit for a dog kennel.

NW

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