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Dog owners Matthew Brodrick and Shelby Kriss address the Dawes County Commissioners Feb. 27, 2018, during their hearing on a special use permit. The were seeking permission to keep an additional 11 dogs on their properties. The permit, which was eventually denied, was opposed by several of their neighbors.

Record photo by Kerri Rempp

A couple seeking permission to keep nearly 30 dogs on their properties east of Chadron were denied the permit required by the Dawes County Commissioners.

The commissioners voted against the permit in a unanimous decision last week, citing concerns over safety and the need to consider the well-being of the entire neighborhood. Several other residents in the area have objected to the large number of dogs owned by Matt Brodrick and Shelby Kriss. The couple owns two parcels, and under the county’s zoning regulations are allowed to keep nine dogs on each parcel, for a total of 18.

They were asking for a conditional use permit to add 11 more dogs to their properties.

Brodrick and Kriss have argued that special uses are allowed with the permits, saying they want to comply with the law. A state inspection ruled that they do not need a state kennel permit, and that the dogs are well-behaved and cared for.

“We want to bring our dogs back home,” Brodrick told the commissioners, noting that they have sent 11 dogs to live with friends and family while they have worked through the permit request process.

The couple and their neighbors have been at odds over the dogs for months. A previous Zoning Board ruling went against Brodrick and Kriss, limiting them to nine dogs on the two parcels. That ruling was overturned by the Board of Adjustment. Then, the couple withdrew their initial special use permit application in order to provide more detailed information to the commissioners. They refiled a few weeks ago, essentially beginning the process anew.

Their neighbors have voiced concerns over the large number, the safety of the neighborhood and environmental concerns. The presence of the dogs, which include some pitbulls, has altered their behavior, they say, as they have stopped hiking and walking out of fear.

Brodrick and Kriss have countered that their dogs are always confined on chains or in kennels and are even-tempered.

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“We are willing to do whatever we need to to keep our dogs,” Kriss said. The couple does not breed the dogs commercially on a regular basis, nor do they take in animals for boarding purposes. The dogs are pets that they have raised their entire lives, Kriss said.

Regardless, none of the county commissioners were in favor of the special use permit, even though it had a recommendation of approval from the Zoning Board. Chairman Jake Stewart said he has a responsibility to all county residents, and denying the permit reduces the county’s risk by keeping the dog numbers down.

The situation has resulted in discussions about updates to the county’s zoning regulations. The Zoning Board will likely consider several changes to the regulations in the future; those, too, must be approved by the county commissioners before they become final.

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