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Shelby Township Takes Bite Into Dog Rescue Controversy

Shelby Township officials say a local dog rescue and foster care operation in Forest Glen subdivision violates township ordinance.

Does a home-based animal rescue operation have a place in Shelby Township?

Township officials say no, which is news for Kelley LaBonty, who has operated the nonprofit Detroit Animal Welfare Group out of her home in the Forest Glen subdivision for the past 10 years.

A registered nurse, LaBonty serves as president of DAWG and fosters multiple animals at any given time in addition to her own four dogs.

In January, Shelby Township notified LaBonty that her operation was in violation of township zoning ordinances, as an animal rescue is "not a permitted use" in a residential area, according to The Macomb Daily.

A second letter was sent the first week of February, which ordered LaBonty to remove the fosters she had and cease operating the rescue from her home by Feb. 17. 

While the township does not have an ordinance specific to neighborhood-based animal-rescue operations, township attorney Robert Huth told The Macomb Daily that DAWG "violates the zoning ordinance because it’s not a permitted use in a residential zone."

For some of LaBonty's neighbors, the issue is liability.

Armand Verlado, president of the Forest Glen Homeowners Association, told the board of trustees last week that he and other residents are concerned about accountability should a dog get loose and injure someone.

Labonty had not complied with the township's order to cease operations as of Feb. 17, leading Shelby Township officials to consider court as the next step.

Should DAWG be permitted to operate in Forest Glen subdivision? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

sue March 02, 2013 at 10:05 PM
I'm getting to think thats only board Shelby has. Since I've lived here for 35yrs. They can't confirm ordinances on this because there is not one.... Shelby has always had problems .. They do what ever they want and try toget away with.This is not the only issue they are dealing with....Other cities must be looking on and saying what a bunch .... representing Shelby Twp.
Dana Horton March 03, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Mr Stathakis and Mr Flynn are upset because the dogs haven’t been paying their taxes.
Matt Guarnieri March 04, 2013 at 07:41 AM
Ms. Horton's comments reflect an obsession with a couple of board members. Like a scorned. stalking lover would have.
Deanna March 05, 2013 at 05:59 AM
She has been doing it for 10 years why make a big deal now. Thats just so sad that people have nothing better to do than complain about the neighbors that do good things.
Carrie Odonnell May 29, 2013 at 02:47 PM
My husband and I currently are fostering two dogs from Kelly. They are good dogs . Kelly is very respecful whenever we need to get a hold of her for anything. Also, we have adopted our 4th pot bellied pig (Blanquita) means white in Spanish she is all white. Otherwise she would of been put down at Macomb Animal Shelter behind the jail at Cass. That place is dispicable ,animals always sick especially dogs. Please find yourselves other stuff to occupy your minds. Rescue work is hard, loving and rewarding. Sincerely, Pig Farmer John and wife Carrie.

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