James and Melissa Lecker moved to Wausau, Wisconsin with their four dogs, unaware of the fact that they had two more pets than the city allowed. In late January, the young family learned that to come into compliance, they faced a stark choice: give up two of their dogs — family members, really — or pay a $114 daily fine.
An agonizing choice for any pet owner, it led to weeks of stress and sleepless nights for Melissa Lecker, and an eventual decision to move (at a loss of $15,000) if the situation continued. Money wasn’t the primary issue, it was the principle at stake, keeping her family together:
“Material things — money and a house — don’t mean anything compared to a living and breathing animal with feelings”
But that was before Tuesday, when Lecker took her issue straight to the Public Health and Safety Chairwoman. Today, it is looking like common sense and cooler heads may be prevailing in Wausau:
But Tipple said city leaders should consider adding an exception clause to the ordinance that could involve permits, for example, or allow residents to keep more than two dogs until a complaint is filed.
Could this be… progress? We are hopeful. Lecker, for her part, is committed to the cause — not just for her own family (they may still end up moving), but the entire community. And for that, we applaud her. Sometimes all it takes for big changes to occur is the passion of a committed individual.