A Lodi couple’s plan to operate a dedicated kennel for breeding Aussiedor dogs was rejected Tuesday by county supervisors, who cited noise and the potential for an excess of dogs on the property.
Maria Dolan and her husband Nestor Piva had been operating the kennel from their home on the 15000 block of East Tokay Colony Road since 2019, but without any permits.
According to San Joaquin County Community Development staff, nine noise complaints were filed against the couple between 2019 and 2022, two of which resulted in code enforcement citations issued in 2019 and 2020. The coupe was also invited to cease its activities.
After the second citation, the couple applied for permits to operate the kennel, but neighbors were concerned about the noise.
The San Joaquin County Planning Commission denied the request, and the couple appealed the decision to supervisors on Tuesday.
Speaking through a translator, Piva told supervisors he and his wife planned to breed the dogs – an Australian Shepherd and Labrador Retriever mix – to help people with special needs.
“The breed is really smart, and it’s for kids with special needs,” he said. “They are used for autism, or if someone needs a companion dog for anxiety or any type of disability. All dogs have a DNA test to make sure they are disease free. Their temperament is known to be affectionate, loyal, gentle, and friendly to those they recognize, and they tend to bark a lot.
Piva said all of the noise complaints from neighbors were caused by their own dogs, not hers. He presented videos he recorded with his mobile phone which show a neighbour’s dog barking excessively, as he claims his dogs remained calm
He alleged that his neighbors complained not only about barking dogs in the area, but also about a tool shed he built unrelated to the kennel, when he mowed the grass on the property that he rents or if he and his wife play music.
Piva claimed that his neighbors just didn’t like the fact that he and his wife were Latinos.
The couple live on a property that contains three houses, one of which is inhabited by the owner.
Community development staff said the county code allows a maximum of three dogs per household as pets. With the three houses on the property in question, a maximum of nine are allowed as pets.
For the kennel, Piva had asked to keep nine dogs, in addition to the dogs he and his wife keep as pets.
County staff said there was a potential for 18 adult dogs at the site, including pets and those in the kennel. Puppies would not be included in the total animal count until they are weaned, staff said.
The kennel cages are located outside the property and consist of a chain link fence and gates, as well as black mesh coverings on the sides.
Staff said during the two code enforcement investigations in 2019 and 2020, the officer found more than nine dogs on the couple’s property, violating county code.
Neighbor Ross Stoddart said at any given time in the past four years there were as many as 15 dogs at the site. He said he and eight other neighbors in the area wouldn’t be against a kennel if the couple operated one that kept the dogs safe, as well as minimal noise.
“It’s not a conditioned kennel,” he said. “When it’s 30 degrees outside, these dogs are exposed. According to the Sheriff (of San Joaquin County), these kennels meet the “minimum requirement”. We always like to give the benefit of the doubt, but I would ask you to deny this based on comments from neighbors and the planning commission. And if they want to install a new building to do this, they can install a new application. »
Gene Stoddart also lives near the couple and said the issue was with noise generated by dogs and not discrimination.
He said Piva and Dolan are good people, but they should have gone through the proper channels to start a business in the neighborhood.
“I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, I wouldn’t wish that (on the applicant).” he said. “I feel bad for what they had to go through, but the fact is they didn’t speak to anyone when they put this operation together. They were quoted once, and they should have known then that ‘they should have done something. correctly. They were quoted a second time, and that’s where we are today.
Board clerk Rachel DeBord read three letters from residents supporting Piva and Dolan, all of which said the couple loved animals and were good people.
“I am very sad to think that they have to separate”, wrote Juan Flores. “It’s their home, they’re part of the family. Please touch your hearts and let them keep the dogs with this family. Someone who doesn’t like animals very much can be a good neighbor and need to learn from others. These dogs have a lot of love. Please keep them together.
Supervisor Tom Patti said his parents operated a kennel when he was younger, and there are usually two males and a few females who could give breeders a few litters of around five puppies a year.
“I struggle with that,” he said. “It feels like a puppy mill when you have so many dogs for breeding purposes. I mean, we have many shelters that are overrun with homeless and euthanized dogs on a regular basis. We are considering a full scale operation for the puppies at this point.
Supervisor Kathy Miller agreed, saying 18 adult dogs, plus an unknown number of puppies 300 feet from the nearest neighbor would only create more conflict.
“I also read (in the application) that they plan to keep puppies for 90 days with about six litters per year,” she said. “Multiply (six litters) by 90 days, they will have at least one litter at all times and will likely have two litters of puppies at a time. That’s a lot of dogs.
Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to uphold the planning commission’s decision, with Supervisor Robert Rickman casting the only dissenting vote.