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updated: 12/19/2013 4:30 PM

Wood Dale lets rescue leader keep five dogs

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  • Wood Dale officials say they're dropping a complaint against Lisa Spakowski, a rescue leader who is caring for five dogs -- two more than allowed by code.

    Wood Dale officials say they're dropping a complaint against Lisa Spakowski, a rescue leader who is caring for five dogs -- two more than allowed by code.
    Daily Herald file photo


A Wood Dale woman who got into legal trouble for having too many dogs in her home pet rescue operation will be allowed to keep the five ailing animals that remain.

Lisa Spakowski, founder and president of Illinois Birddog Rescue, was ticketed by Wood Dale for having at least 10 dogs in her house. It's illegal in the city to have more than three dogs in a residence, officials said.

In response to the August complaint, Spakowski reduced the number of canines to five. But she wasn't able to find suitable homes for the remaining dogs because they all have tick-borne diseases and other ailments.

Now she doesn't have to worry about it.

On Thursday, Wood Dale officials said they are going to drop the complaint against Spakowski. They say Spakowski can keep the five dogs as long as she doesn't add more.

"She's allowed to maintain those five dogs given the nature of what she does," said Patrick Bond, Wood Dale's city attorney. "It's a rescue. In light of that, no one wants harm to come to the dogs."

Last month, Spakowski said she feared the legal case could end with her having to euthanize two of the dogs.

Spakowski on Thursday said she's "beyond thrilled" that city officials are dropping the ticket. "I'm overjoyed, grateful and relieved," she said.

Spakowski won't even need to attend a hearing scheduled for next week.

Wood Dale officials learned in August that Spakowski was harboring at least 10 dogs in her house after responding to complaints from neighbors. The neighbors were unhappy about dogs barking and getting out of Spakowski's yard.

Even though Spakowski is licensed by the state to keep foster dogs at her home, Wood Dale zoning laws prohibit a kennel, shelter or animal hospital from being in residential areas. Those kinds of uses can be operated only in an area zoned for commercial or business areas.

Bond said officials are comfortable with granting an exception for Spakowski because the city reached a similar deal with another group several years ago.

"She got the number of dogs under control," he said.

Illinois Birddog Rescue has nine licensed foster homes around the state, according to Spakowski. But Spakowski says unforeseen circumstances forced her to keep more dogs than usual at her home in August.

"The goal for me was never to have a whole bunch of foster dogs," she said.

Of the dogs that remain, three of them -- Buckwheat, 11, Gavin, 3, and Lani, 11 -- are Spakowski's pets. The two other dogs are Dantes, a 12-year-old English setter, and Boonie, a 10-year-old English pointer.

"I want to keep my five and still continue the rescue," Spakowski said. She said she won't keep any more foster animals at her home.

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