Take Paws: Wheeling Rewrites Pet Law

63-year-old woman still not giving up her pets

Two weeks ago, 63-year-old Margaret Bucher of Wheeling refused to give up her fifth dog, despite a village ordinance that made it illegal "for any person to keep or harbor more than four of any type or combination of animals" older than 4 months.

After receiving a significant amount of media coverage and public backlash, village officials are considering changing the law ... to fewer animals per household.

The village board will vote on Monday to restrict residents of multi-family complexes (e.g., apartments and condos) to only three pets. Single-family homeowners would still be allowed four.

Village Manager J. Mark Rooney told the Daily Herald that a "grandfather clause" would allow current owners of four pets to keep them as long as they are registered before July 1.

Bucher has already received two citations for violating the four-pets ordinance and for not registering the dogs.

Bucher had also owned three cats, in addition to the five dogs, but she relocated them when she realized that they also broke the rule.

Bucher, whose daughter lives with her, had hoped that she would be able to keep the eight animals because the law allows four pets "for any person." However, the village board already plans to clarify the wording (from "person" to "dwelling") in order to remove any confusion.

"What if you have five people living in your house? Then are you allowed to have 20 dogs?" said acting Village President Dean Argiris.

Bucher hopes to fight the ordinance and plans to move from her home of 19 years if she isn't allowed to keep all five of her dogs.

"I just can't give them up for the world," she said.

Matt Bartosik, editor of Off the Rocks' next issue and "between blogs" blogger, is more of a cat person.

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