Could you image having to make a Sophie's Choice with your dogs, where you must choose which dogs to keep and which one must be given away? This was the nightmare a family faced earlier this year, except this story has a very happy ending. A Canton family who had one dog too many have convinced local officials to ease the dog-limit rule and allow them to keep all four of their dogs.
Jennie and Alexander Yee contacted the township in March after someone anonymously reported seeing four dogs in their back yard. The couple, who had recently moved to Canton, Michigan, with their 8-month-old son Jacob, were unaware of the town's three dog ordinance. So when they were approached by a police officer and told they would have to get rid of one of their dogs, they were shocked and heartbroken.
"They’re everything to us," Yee said of her Cavalier King Charles and Cocker Spaniel mixes. "They're our family." Jennie could not imagine loosing one of them and have to make the heartwrenching decision.
Jennie and Alexander approached the township board to appeal for an exception. Jennie told officials Bentley, Shelby, Beamer and Edge mostly play quietly when outside in a fenced yard. She offered to pay extra fees, comply with regular inspections and even limit their time outside when children are outdoors. She also pointed out that each of her dogs weigh less than 25 pounds, and suggested the township allow for such situations.
The Yees were allowed to keep their dogs while the Canton Township Board of Trustees reviewed their situation. This week they reached consensus that will allow the Yees to keep all four dogs. The Board went a step further and will now allow a household to have as many as five dogs, though certain permits, fees and inspections could potentially apply once officials formally adopt an ordinance in coming weeks.
Township officials said dog owners still would have to make sure their pets don't disturb their neighbors, no matter how many they have. "There are people out there who maintain their pets very well and who are good neighbors," said Trustee Pat Williams, "and we're contrasting that against protecting the community from hoarders and neighbors who don't control their animals."
When Jennie and Alexander heard the news, they were relieved. Jennie said: "That's fabulous. I'm delighted to hear that,” Jennie Yee said. "I'm just excited that maybe I helped make changes for other people as well. Our dogs are our family."
She's also happy for her toddler. "Jacob loves playing with all of the doggies," Jennie Yee said. "When he holds a ball, they playfully bark at him. Jacob thinks it's very funny teasing them and gets a big belly laugh. So cute. I love the family that we have started here in Canton."