Wadena woman fights to keep her three basset hounds

Under the City of Wadena’s kennel ordinance, dog owners are allowed no more than two grown dogs per home. While the mayor says it’s really only enforced when neighbors complain about barking, one woman says the rule has torn her family apart and is asking City Council to compromise.

Tuesday night, Amber Block went before the Wadena City Council to fight to keep her three basset hounds: Flash, Comet and Roxy.

“Our dogs are our family,” said Block.

She told Fox 9 this the second time she has gone before the council on this issue.

“It’s been challenging on all of us,” she said. “Emotionally, mentally on myself and on my daughter, but on the dogs as well.”

Last month, Block was forced to re-home eight-year-old Flash, a rescue who suffers a heart condition, after neighbors told city leaders the pooches just don’t hush. 

“Several barking complaints. Several,” said Wadena Police Chief Naomi Plautz.

Since the complaints, which Block says are a year old, she installed a privacy fence and got bark collars for each dog. But city leaders say complaints were also made in March.

“We had a couple sitting in this council chamber talking to us about your dogs,” said Mayor George Diess during the meeting.

Block is now asking the city do away with the law, which even Wadena’s mayor has obeyed.

“We re-homed two dogs,” said Diess. “I had two boys at home were they sad that we had to re-home the dogs, yes they were, but they also realized that was a rule of law.”

But Block’s online petition has given Wadena, home to only 4,000 people, worldwide attention. The petition has nearly 100,000 signatures.

Kerri Jacobson-Jensen, a dog groomer in Wadena says she understands both sides of the debate. But she says hundreds of dog lovers in the city are now worried.

“Multiple families with more than two pets and they’re very scared about losing their animals and it just breaks your heart,” said Jacobson-Jensen.

But she says she understands the city must also consider those without pets.

“They’re doing the best they can, because you do have people that hate animals,” said Jacobson-Jensen.

While Block left the council chambers without victory Tuesday, she says she’s nowhere near the end of her tether. She says she will continue to work with the dog ordinance committee in hopes they reach middle ground.

“I think there’s still hope,” said Block.

Wadena’s City Council maintains they see no real reason to change the ordinance. If anyone is found in violation of this law they could face a $50 fine and court enforcement.