White Dog and the others crowded closely around me in fear. "They are not going to come and take us away, momma, are they?" "White Ones, believe me when I promise NO ONE will separate our family or take any of you away. NO ONE!"
Those of you who also follow us on Facebook already know that yesterday I came out of the office to find the WDA wildly barking and a yellow doorknob hanger hanging from my INSIDE door, which means someone was in our house. It was a notice from Animal Welfare asking me to call them and informing me that a complaint of alleged ordinance violation had been filed against us.
I called the number on the card immediately and was asked to provide a time for the officer to come by and initiate an investigation. "What is the complaint?" I asked. I was told that I would be informed when the officer arrived at my house to begin the investigation. I indicated that the officer should call me, advise me of the complaint and THEN we would establish a time to meet.
This morning I called Animal Welfare again, unsettled that the officer had entered my house and risked getting bitten and I was angered that the nature of the complaint was being kept secret. I got the same response from them...and 20 minutes later an Animal Control Officer pulled up in front of my house. Steve met him outside on the driveway and it turns out he had mistakenly left the notice at our house, 204, and it was meant for 208. "Throw it away," he told Steve.
As Steve was walking back toward the house the officer stopped him. "When I was here yesterday I saw that you have six dogs." Steve affirmed the fact and explained that Puff was a permanent hospice dog and that Oso who had just passed a few weeks ago was a permanent medical foster. We had been told previously that these members of the WDA do not count against the four dog ordinance. Sachi has only been here 10 days and just had his vet visit and shots update days ago.
"You need to get a Multiple Companion Animal Site Permit that excludes you from the limit." (It is $50). Steve explained that we had tried before but run into a conundrum in the law's wording because of Puff. The law requires that all companion animals be spayed or neutered, and Puff because of her age (16yo), collapsing trachea, and pulmonary/heart damage from heartworms cannot endure the surgery. Dr. Julia refuses to put her under for fear she will die...and she has written letters to the City to explain this to no avail. In the eyes of the City of Albuquerque, Puff is not a disabled senior dog but an intact breeder bitch...which means to license her costs $150 (vs the usual $6) and makes us ineligible for the MCASP...we need to purchase a breeder's permit at $300 instead. Steve asked for the officer's help and advice on how to get around the problem. "Go into the Eastside Facility and ask them; maybe they can help." And if not?
All of the WDA is vetted, vaccinated, microchipped as required. Michael does a fine job of daily keeping the yard free of poop. The WDA is quiet except for when people come up to the house (as they should be) and spend most of their time indoors. They are model citizens.
It angers me that because of a stupid error in reading addresses our home should be violated and we should now have to fight this battle to get SOMEONE in government to use enough common sense to properly classify one little old white fluffy girl so that we can comply with permitting. It makes no sense that 5 of 6 of the WDA would be fixed unless there was a reason...AND we have validation from the vet.
It also makes me mad that Steve and I take in the seniors and medically needy dogs that generally die in shelters because no one wants to adopt dogs that come with the promise of huge vet bills and emotional stress, and yet we are made to jump through hoops and to feel like outlaws. These people, in the know, should appreciate the second chances and commitment we give to our rescued Army and should help facilitate our efforts, not throw up roadblocks.
We have been advised to simply tell Animal Welfare that Puff has died and permit without listing her...or that we should just ignore the whole thing until we get a written charge for our insolence. Both seem to keep the WDA dangling at the edge of danger.
Next week Steve and I will quietly and respectfully go to Animal welfare again and try to do the right thing. If we get nowhere, I will first guarantee the WDA's safety from being impounded and then will strap on my "Don't Mess with My White Dogs" Armor...let us hope it does not come to that.
Thanks for your paws and prayers of a quick and positive resolution.