Letters to the Editor

Control dogs, not property

As a property owner affected by the APZ land use ordinance, I find it absurd on the part of those that argue sufficient notice, or no notice, was required to land owners under the GMA. If that is so, perhaps the GMA is fundamentally flawed.

Somewhere in the process the fundamentals seem lost. “No notice” required for restricting use, or “taking,” of private property sure seems like a violation of due process rights to me. But what do I know? I’m just a property owner, a lawyer, and dog mom trying to keep myself and my animals alive out here under the skies filled with the Sound of Freedom.

Contrast the quick propensity of those in power to pass county ordinances that take private property without notice, for a hypothetical plane crash that might someday happen in the APZ, with the severe lack of county ordinances that protect residents (and visitors) from attack dogs on the island, for attacks that have happened and continue to happen right outside our back door.

Having been personally thrown into the inadequacies of our legal system when two errant dogs attacked my little black sheep Matilda (Whidbey News-Times, “Dog takes ewe’s ear” Jan. 19, 2008) where she lost an ear, but thankfully not her life, with a continued failure of the owner to contain her dogs and a complete failure of the owner to pay restitution ordered through the courts, I am left helpless and irate.

And “the law” is of no help. Meanwhile, one of Matilda’s attackers meanders around my property on a weekly basis, kept away now only by the thousands of dollars of fencing I have been forced to install (with the help of the best neighbors in the world, directly to my south, but certainly not to my east).

When the errant attack dogs of Whidbey Island come on my private property to attack me or my animals, I have little recourse because of a lack of county ordinances to address the issue. When a 75-year-old visitor is attacked by errant dogs and her companion Chihuahua is killed, we are told their is little that can be done “because of county ordinances” (statement of Animal Control Officer Barnes, Whidbey News-Times, Sept. 27, 2008). I am forced to spend thousands of dollars to protect my property and animals from errant attack dogs because of the limited nature and lack of these county ordinances. Yet, those in power are quick to pass county ordinances that restrict the use of my property without even a “how do you do” notification. To use a common phrase many of us can relate to, “that’s just not right.”

Perhaps those in power can add one more restrictive use to the county ordinance taking my private property: “Attack Dogs Not Allowed.” Such a restriction might actually be beneficial to the property owner for a change and not cost me thousands of dollars. I don’t even care if they fail to give me notice on that one.

Cecilia Welch

Oak Harbor

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