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Ohio family fights to keep therapy dogs

Karen Glardon and her daughter, Erin Blevins, at their Fairfield, Ohio home, with their dogs, Peanut, Corkee and Little Man.
Karen Glardon and her daughter, Erin Blevins, at their Fairfield, Ohio home, with their dogs, Peanut, Corkee and Little Man., The Enquirer

The Journal News reported yesterday of a Fairfield, Ohio family who was to relinquish possession of all but two of their dogs, due to a violation of the city ordinance. The family spoke at Monday night's city council meeting about their previous agreement with the city, and has decided to render the original agreement null and void. Approved by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, as reported, now the family is challenging that, saying they will do whatever it takes to keep all seven of their dogs. Erin Blevins, who lives with her mother, Karen Glardon, says the dogs are not only "family members", but therapeutic. Glardon suffers from depression, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, and says the dogs help her. Blevins also claims to suffer from depression.

Erin Blevins tells the Fairfield Ohio Board of Zoning Appeals why members should allow her mom to keep her seven dogs. Fairfield’s ordinance allows residents to have two pets at their homes.
Journal News

Currently, the Fairfield ordinance allows two dogs per household. reported Fairfield’s pet regulation dates back to at least 1984. It allows two adult dogs or cats older than four months old on a residential lot or owners must apply for a kennel license. However, kennels aren’t allowed on property that is zoned residential. Violators face a fine of up to $500. Communities surrounding Fairfield allow more pets. West Chester Township allows four. Liberty Township and the city of Hamilton allow five per household.

The Journal News spoke to Glardon, who said her dogs were constant companions after her cataract surgery late last year. She told them,

“They knew I was sick, and wanted to be by me. They laid by me and didn’t leave my side,” she said.
“They help me. They really do".

The board originally delayed ruling because city officials received two anonymous complaints about the dogs barking. Blevins said she brings the dogs in if the barking lasts over three minutes, and has never had the Fairfield police or the Butler County dog warden called on her, for any reason.

Because of her mother's disability, Blevins believes Fairfield's ordinance violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, and vows to obtain a lawyer, if necessary. “Council could create an ordinance to modify the domestic animal limit should they desire,” said Tim Bachman, Fairfield’s Development Services Director. Bachman told the Journal News last year, "it's a balance of rights, the individual’s rights versus the property rights of those in the subdivision and neighborhood".

Blevins said the zoning and appeals board said her family had to ask for a variance to get a kennel license, but the family ended up not being eligible for that. In Monday's meeting with city council, Blevins demanded they make a resolution in the next two weeks that would settle the matter once and for all. Blevins says the city has no legal right to ask her family to give up five of its seven dogs, as they are not only family members, but her "personal property" as well.

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