Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Man fighting to keep his six dogs

By Tiffanie Dismore, WLFI

County ordinance only allows three dogs

A Tippecanoe County man is fighting to keep his pups and livelihood. Matthew Kirkwood has six dogs and Tippecanoe county's ordinance states an owner can have no more than three. He said losing half of his dogs could cost him his job.
"I don't want to operate a commercial kennel. I simply just want six dogs. I don't even want anymore than that," Kirkwood explained.
Kirkwood's two English Pointers Whitey and Brownie along with his four pit bulls aren't just pets. Kirkwood uses them in his job to keep birds off airport runways and away from factories.
"I go to airports a lot of times and I scare birds off runways. I do some work up near Chicago and some steel plants. One of the properties that we have with the sea gulls, what they do is they chase the seagulls. They want to nest there. If the dogs keep running around, the birds get nervous and go somewhere else to nest. Therefore, they leave that area open," Kirkwood said.
He has been training dogs for over 20 years to do this type of work, but now that may change. He moved to Tippecanoe County six years ago and thought, living in a rural area, it wouldn't matter he had six dogs. But he said his neighbor complained to the county about the six dogs, so now he will go before the Board of Zoning Appeals to ask that a special exception be made for his agricultural zone property.
"I can have as many cattle in my backyard here. I can have as many pigs as I want in this yard. Unlimited. But, unfortunately, as far as pets go, I can only have three dogs," he said.
The Tippecanoe County Area Plan Commission recommends not approving Kirkwood's petition for an exception. Should that happen, Kirkwood will have to make a tough decision: which dogs to keep.
"Which three?" Kirkwood asked. "You tell me which three to get rid of. I love all of them. They are all great dogs. I would hate to get rid of them just to get rid of them."
Not only would Kirkwood have to decide who stays and who goes, he may not be able to continue his business.
"Because of that, I would probably lose some of these contracts," he explained. "One reason to have six dogs is I like to run a couple of them at a time and rest the others. If I only have three dogs, that is going to limit my capability of doing that type of work."
Kirkwood lives about 50 yards away from Clinton County. He said if he would live in Clinton County, he could keep the six dogs.
Kirkwood will go before the Board of Zoning Appeals Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Tippecanoe County Office Building at 20 North 3rd Street in Lafayette.

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