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Somers Resident Fights to Keep Family Intact

Note: An earlier posting of this article neglected to mention that the seven Chihuahua "puppies" were born eight years ago.

SOMERS, N.Y. - Anita Larsen’s house is on a private road. One side of her property abuts the Amawalk Reservoir. The neighboring properties on the east and west are 500 feet away. “There’s very little development there,” explained her lawyer, John Brian Macreery, at a meeting of the Somers Zoning Board of Appeals.

Larsen is applying for a temporary special use permit in order to “keep her family with her in her home,” said Attorney Macreery. Larsen’s family consists of nine Chihuahuas, one husky and a labrador retriever. The R-80 zoning designation allows for a maximum of three dogs.

The canine family proliferated when two of the Chihuahuas decided to start a family eight years ago. Four puppies were born. Family planning measures were called for. The female was fitted with a leather chastity belt to preclude further hanky-panky. Alas, said Macreery, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Three more pups joined the family six months later.

“All of the dogs are now spayed or neutered,” Macreery explained. “There will be no more puppies. This is not a kennel. No dog will be replaced. The matriarch is ten years old."  A special use temporary permit is usually granted for a one-year period with the possibility of renewal.

The dogs were described as “very well-mannered. Chihuahuas are by definition lap dogs. They all fit on one La-Z-Boy recliner.” The dogs are walked daily and dog litter is regularly collected.

Macreery mentioned that the dogs do not impact the economic structure of the town, citing the school system as an example. He also referred to a Lincolndale precedent, where the owner of six dogs was granted a special use permit in a more densely populated area.

It was agreed that members of the zoning board would visit the Larsen site before making any decision. Said Clifford Wohlberg, recently appointed chairman of the board, “I can’t think of a case I’d have liked less to start out with. There are a lot of feelings involved here.”

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