By Patricia Bogumil

Interim editor

Two Rochester residents who have harbored as many as seven dogs on their property have until the end of October to pare down that number to four.

Janet and Tony Helland, 1521 Heritage Road, were denied a kennel license last month after complaints were raised by their neighbors, forcing the Village of Rochester to take action against them.

The denial decision was made by both the Rochester Public Works Committee and the Village Board.

At issue are the seven dogs the couple has been housing on the property.

In a telephone interview Oct. 3, Christopher Birkett, the village’s Animal Control Officer, said current statutes allow for just four canines on the Hellands’ property, which is located within what used to be Rochester township.

But eventually the number of permitted canines will drop to three, Birkett added, once the village completes its ongoing work at consolidating ordinances in effect when the town and village merged in 2009.

Since the seven dogs owned by the Hellands exceed the number that is allowed, the Hellands had to have a kennel license issued to them in order for all seven dogs to legally remain on the property, Birkett explained.

Birkett told village officials Sept. 12 that he had recently inspected the Helland property and that while all the animals were well cared for, neighbors have complained about the animals getting out and running loose and defecating on neighboring properties.

During his visit to the property, Birkett noted that the ground around the bottom of the kennel had been dug out enough by the pets to allow them to escape underneath the fence.

While Village Trustee Chris Bennett suggested last month that not giving the Hellands a chance to rectify the situation may be a bit “draconian” of the board, Birkett said allowing the animals to remain given the adamant opposition from neighbors would “be stirring up a hornet’s nest.”

In addition, Village Clerk Betty Novy noted that besides the animals running loose, none of the Helland dogs has been licensed for several years now, as required under the village’s ordinance.

Birkett said Oct. 3 that he has not heard any recent complaints from the neighbors.

Birkett said he plans to stop by the Helland property during the last week of October to check for compliance and that if citations are warranted, they can be issued and fines assessed.

In the future, the possibility exists for the village to reconsider the Hellands’ kennel application.

Birkett explained that if the couple can contain the permitted number of dogs from here on out for a period of a couple of years, the license could be reconsidered.

Note: Some information in this story was compiled by Editor Mark Dudzik before the commencement of his medical leave on Sept. 26.