The Prairie du Sac Village Board reversed its original decision to deny an exception to an ordinance outlining the maximum number of pets allowed at a residence.
That action allows five dogs and their two feline counterparts to live out the rest of their lives at the Prairie du Sac home of Maria and Derek Thompson, according to the Oct. 9 decision.
“I can breathe again,” Maria Thompson said after the meeting. “It’s been really heavy on my husband and I.”
The issue began during a summer visit to Thompsons’ home by a state employee who was there to inspect the daycare and preschool the couple operates out of their home. At the inspection, the staffer informed the Thompsons they were in violation of village ordinance outlining the number of pets a residence can have. The limit is three, unless village board approval is granted. The Thompsons have seven. The Thompsons then alerted the village, asking if they could make an exception due to the age of four of the animals.
The village board voted 6-1 on Aug. 14 to deny the Thompsons an exception to allow the couple to keep all seven of their animals. Maria Thompson, who did not attend the meeting when the first vote was taken, asked the board to reconsider so she could make a case to keep the animals. After the board voted against her again, she was given 30 days to be in compliance with the ordinance.
After support from residents, neighbors of the Thompsons, preschool families and a local veterinarian, village trustee Craig Bender requested Sept. 25 the topic be reconsidered once more. Raymond Bolton, who cast the lone yes vote for the exemption, seconded the motion.
Board member Andrew Strathman made the motion to reconsider the matter at the board’s Oct. 9 meeting, and subsequently made another motion to allow the exception.
“I felt like we couldn’t talk about this until we were on the path to compliance,” Strathman said. “I think all of us here feel our purpose here is to make life better in Prairie du sac for every resident. I don’t feel what you are asking for is making anything worse for anybody.”
Board President Cheryl Sherman said the first time the topic came before the board she considered supporting the waiver, so long as the elderly animals were not replaced once they passed away.
“That’s pretty much what’s in this resolution,” Sherman said. “The only thing I would like to add is every six months we get an update on the (animals’ status.)”
Board members Nick Lester and Eldor Fruehling voted against allowing the waiver, with Lester saying he was concerned about precedence-setting.
“I guess I am in agreement with the notion of attrition, as far as getting into compliance,” Lester said, but later motioned to deny the waiver.
Fruehling said he has a problem with continually making exceptions to resolutions.
“I took an oath to be a trustee for the village,” Fruehling said. “To me, that includes upholding village ordinances. Emotionally, I want to say, ‘Yeah, go for it.’ But from the standpoint of ordinances and responsibility, we have to be cautious on how we interpret this.”
Sherman said the ordinance was originally intended to prevent people who hoard animals that end up getting neglected.
Strathman said an ordinance is needed so the village can call on the police department to enforce those limitations.
“The whole purpose for ordinances in a sense is to make sure Prairie du Sac is a better place,” Strathman said. “But I feel there is too much hardship on the family (to deny the exception.)”
Maria Thompson said she was “Truly grateful” for the support she and her husband have received.
“The support for us has been overwhelming,” Thompson said following the meeting’s conclusion. “We are so blessed to have that around us.”