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Dog rescue will turn into something else

 


A continuing “dog rescue” issue got a full hearing before Grand Coulee’s planning commission last Tuesday night, with some resolution.

Dorothy Harris and her sister-in-law Dee Harris argued the finer points of the city’s zoning code during some heated discussions, but in the end they can say it isn’t over until it‘s over.

The two told planners that they no longer want to pursue a “dog rescue” operation, and in fact, Dorothy Harris said, “We no longer have a dog rescue” operation.

Planners also softened their position, though not backing down from the contention that the Harris couple are “out of compliance.”

The issue was whether the Harrises could have a dog rescue operation in the midst of a residential area.

Planners agreed to recommend to the council that the two get 90 days to comply with the city’s ordinance and get their dog population down to three, with the understanding that if they needed more time they could return to the council and ask for it.

Dorothy Harris stated that the two are now looking at a hobby kennel or a pet services arrangement, rather than the rescue operation that takes in homeless dogs and finds homes for them.

Planning commission chair Tammara Byers said that the city zoning code doesn’t adequately describe what the two ideas would look like, but the problem of compliance would be the same.

Byers asked Dorothy Harris how many dogs she currently had.

“It’s none of your business,” Harris replied.

Later, and at the end of the meeting, she apologized for the comment.

Dee Harris explained that the city should know how many dog licenses the two have purchased, but then said she hadn’t told city hall when dogs were released to new owners.

At times, the comments were sharp and neither side appeared to soften.

Harris at one point said that former police chief Mel Hunt, back in 2007, had looked at her operation and said at the time that she was doing the city a favor by taking dogs in and finding homes for them.

She was asked if she had acquired a business license during this time. She said she had not.

Byers said Harris should have come to the city to start with, which would have avoided any questions she is now having about compliance.

Right now they are advising and assisting people who have dog problems, the couple stated, and they still want to continue some type of help for pets.

The two had gone to social media, asking for people to sign a petition pointed at the city council.

Dorothy Harris said at the Aug. 8 meeting that they already had 562 sign the petition, and she thought about half were from this area.

Byers spoke sharply to using social media when the issue isn’t whether planners and the council like animals, but that compliance to zoning codes was the real issue.

Dorothy and Dee Harris will appear before the city council at their next meeting on Tuesday night, Aug. 15, to ask for time to get their dog total down to three.

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