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Grand Coulee turns down home dog rescue operation


Dorothy Harris with one of her rescued dogs. - Roger Lucas photo

A Grand Coulee woman appealed to the city council Tuesday, June 20, to approve a "dog rescue" at her residence.

Dorothy Harris, who resides on Young Street, offered to work with Grand Coulee in writing language for an ordinance that would be acceptable to the council.

However, zoning got in the way.

Councilmember Tammara Byers, who chairs the city's planning commission, told Harris that "there's no way that we are going to allow a rescue operation into an R-1 (residential) zone."

Harris told the council in response that operating a "rescue" was saving the city money and providing a service that was sorely needed.

"You don't have any animal control here, and I am trying to provide it," Harris said.

"We need to work together," she pleaded. "I have obeyed all the rules."

"No," Mayor Paul Townsend said, "you haven't."

Byers invited Harris to attend an Aug. 9 planning commission meeting so she could better explain what was necessary.

The planning commission had reviewed the "rescue" idea and stated that it would have to be in a commercial zone.

Harris countered that it wasn't a commercial business.

She currently is operating a dog rescue for small dogs out of her home.

The mayor noted that the city had received one complaint about her dogs barking.

She had stated earlier when interviewed that her neighbors were receptive to what she was doing and, in fact, helped her on occasion.

The current city ordinance limits the number of dogs permitted at a residence to two unless the police department grants that there can be more.

"There isn't an animal that can't be rehabilitated," Harris told The Star last week.

In the past four years, Harris said, she and her sister-in-law, Dee Harris, have saved 460 dogs and more than 600 cats from wandering loose or being destroyed.

Byers told Harris, "I don't want you to get the impression that we don't appreciate what you do, because we do."

It was apparent that Harris has a way with dogs because when a few started barking as a reporter visited her home she said something to them, after which they never barked again.

Harris said her plan would include seeing that the dogs became licensed and had their shots before putting them into new homes.

In fact, Harris said, she routinely does this working with Grand Coulee Veterinary Clinic, where they are "terrific." She has spent up to $700 on a single animal, just to get it on its feet again.

"It was worth every penny," Harris stated.

People who can't take care of their dogs and cats often just turn them loose, or take them to a refuge that ends up killing them.

"I want to help the city take care of its animals so they aren't running loose," Harris said.

Byers offered to stay after the meeting, along with Councilmember David Tylor, who is also on the planning commission, to explain to Harris the criteria she would have to follow to put in a dog rescue.

But it isn't going to happen under an R-1 zoning, Byers assured her.


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