National News

Old dog ordinance causing controversy and breaking up families in Wadena

Posted July 20

— A controversial city ordinance in one area town is drawing worldwide attention. A law on the books in Wadena, Minnesota says you can't have more than two dogs per home. Now one woman who says she was targeted by the Wadena Police Chief is fighting to get her dog back, after being forced to give him up.

Amber Block owns three basset hounds, and is in the process of re-homing her oldest dog, Flash.

"Out of the numerous over the limit households, we were hunted down by the chief of police as she knew we have three furry family members," said Block.

Wadena has a kennel ordinance that only allows two dogs per home.

"It's not very fair to anyone that's what they are doing to our family," said Block. "Right here on the property that I pay my taxes on and I don't do anything to bother anyone else."

But Block's neighbor says the dogs are bothering people.

"It was to the point every time we were in our yard, in our driveway or front yard we would listen to her dogs bark," said Block's neighbor, Michelle Goldie.

Michelle Goldie says the barking problem has been getting worse. She says she tried to talk with Block about her concerns, but nothing changed.

"They have access to a doggie door, which is the main issue. 24/7 they are not home and she does not know what they do," stated Goldie.

Wadena's mayor did not want to go on camera, but does tell us that the kennel ordinance has been around for a while. Adding that the only time it's enforced is when people complain.

Wadena's Police Chief Naomi Plautz also declined an on camera interview, but says they aren't targeting Block. Plautz also says four other families in town are also in the process of re-homing a third dog because of neighbor complaints.

Plautz confirms Block had a dog barking call against her earlier this year, four in 2016, and one in 2015.

Block says she's made changes to keep her dogs quiet.

"Since we've had the bark collars on and the privacy fence my dogs have not barked, my dogs cannot see those neighbors," she explained.

She is hoping to change the city's kennel law to keeping Flash with his family.

"I don't understand why their trying to break families apart," said Block.

The Wadena Police Chief also says one of the over-the-limit dog cases involves her family members, so the Wadena County Sheriff's office is dealing with that case to avoid a conflict of interest.

An online petition already has around 55,000 signatures from around the world. Local supporters plan to attend the next Wadena City Council meeting. We will continue to follow this story, and will bring you more after the next meeting.

You might remember Wadena for another dog ordinance. The city previously had a dog barking law which stated dogs couldn't bark between 4 p.m. and 9 a.m. That policy also caused a lot of controversy, and even resulted in a lawsuit.

Earlier this year, the city changed the ordinance. Now the owner can be cited if dogs bark repeatedly for at least three minutes and the barking must be timed by police or recorded.

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