Wisconsin Couple Vows to Give up Home Before Dogs

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In early January, a couple in pursuit of the American dream moved to Wausau, Wisconsin, buying a home with the thought of settling down. In just two months, that home was back on the market, and James and Melissa Lecker say they are even willing to take a loss to unload it.

That’s because the town has told them to choose between their home or their dogs. The Leckers moved to Wasau without realizing that the town has an ordinance limiting the number of pets a resident may legally own. The limit for dogs is two: the Leckers own four dogs.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Melissa Lecker said after a police officer notified her she was in violation of the law and subject to a fine of more than $100 per day. “I had never heard of anything like that.”

Lecker says the town gave her an ultimatum, and she and her husband asked them to reconsider. That request fell on deaf ears.

“They told us that the ordinance clearly states they cannot work with us, that it’s either two dogs or that you have to move, as you can’t have four dogs here.”

Faced with the decision, the Leckers said it was an easy one to make.

“These dogs are our family. They are just like our children,” she says. She goes on to explain that her four dogs are worth more to her than money or a house. “This house doesn’t mean as much to us as they do.”

The Leckers have put the house on the market and say they are willing to take a $15,000 loss in order sell it. If leaving town is what it takes to keep their family together, they are ready to move on.

“I hope we can work something out,” Melissa said. “But they are just being so mean. My dogs didn’t bother anyone.”

0 thoughts on “Wisconsin Couple Vows to Give up Home Before Dogs”

  1. What is wrong with this town? Municipal, county, state governments etc…. are eroding our personal rights bit by bit. Where is the logic?

    I admire the Lecker’s devotion to their dogs as I too would chose to move rather than EVER getting rid of my dogs!

    The world would be a better place if everyone valued their animal companions as much as the Leckers.

    SHAME ON YOU WAUSAU, WISCONSIN! I hope you get a lot of negative publicity over this egregious law.

    • Sadly, a lot of those people have to move into apartments that don’t allow dogs and cats. What can they do ??? They probably don’t have access to the internet to find rescue shelters for the loved pets. It’s sad, and I’m sure they are depressed, distraught over losing their homes and sometimes family members as well to financial crisis… Such a sad story so many Americans are having to go through……

    • No one is forced to live in any particular town or city. Does no one take personal responsibility anymore? Perhaps a little research on the ordinances regarding their beloved pets would have been in order, but I have no idea why some of you are saying such nasty things about the town. You can choose not to live there. This family moved without learning those ordinances, so who’s fault is that besides their own?

    • Laws and ordinances are public, for crying out loud. It is no one’s fault but this family’s for not bothering to check what they were, pertaining to their dogs, beforehand. It is no different than researching what property tax rates are, or noise ordinances, if you had, say a Harley Davidson. Would you move to a city and buy a house without finding out what your property tax rate is? Of course not. So why are you blaming the town for something the family had a responsibility to learn? Seems to me if the dogs were so important, they would have taken the five minutes time to look that up.

  2. While I understand the need for laws to avoid full on hoarding situations, this is WAY over-stepping and is honestly just disappointing that it wasn’t disclosed to the family at the closing of their house either by the lawyer present or either their or the seller’s realtor, if it’s a “known town ordinance”. Regardless, I’m proud that this couple is displaying true responsible pet ownership and what a “forever home” really is to their dogs.

  3. I can understand the county(ies) limiting the number of pets one keeps as some yards are small and four large dogs would be quite a handful for some. Barking takes it’s toll on neighbors, and so does the smell of dog feces that someone is not picking up in a timely manner. It also prevents people from hording animals and gives dogs plenty or room to run around in and making sure they have adequate food and other necessities .

    But from the picture, she is holding a Yorkie or Silkie Terrier, now seriously, how dangerous can four of those small dogs be and how much room is not enough? The rules need some type of exemptions in cases like this. As long as she can manage all four of her dogs, who is to say two is the limit? And what if she had only two and decided to adopt a cat or something? If they are so worried about the number of dogs one has, then why not do home inspections to make sure everything is up to par.

    • If you watch the video, the couple has 2 yellow labs, a yorkie and a shitzu mix. I think it’s very sad that Wausau is not willing to work with them. They must have pretty full shelters in their town.

      In my town we have a by-law in place limiting dogs to 3 per family, but I know a few people who have 4 dogs and no one has ever knocked on their doors telling them to get rid of their dogs. Sounds like a busy-body neighbour got their nose out of joint and called the town on them.

      • We live in a rural area,m we have 4 dogs and a cat, all inside except our big dog during the day(fenced yard) but we have a neighbor that has 3 dogs another 2 dogs, and a closer neighbor that has 13 dogs , another that has 5 dogs, Needless to say at times there is a lot of barking. But we all love our animals and neighbors take care of theirs, neutered and spayed,fed watered, etc so we don’t mind . I wouldn’t want any county government official (or State) telling us we can’t have our pets. that’s carrying control a little too far. Doesn’t that sound a little bit like Communism?


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