After a dispute with a neighbor on an adjacent street turned ugly, Amy Tellier has found herself in the position of having to give up three of the six dogs she cares for at her home.
“The whole thought of having to decide who would have to go…It’s just too much to even bear to have to think about,” she said on Thursday while sitting on her front steps surrounded by her dogs. She wipes tears from her eyes as she speaks.
Tellier, an East Greenwich Animal Protection League volunteer of about two years who has fostered other dogs, and her husband Ray have six dogs, three more than the city limit, at their Warwick home. Tellier said three of those dogs are fosters that wouldn’t otherwise be able to find homes. There’s Ramona, who’s about three years old, has to take Prozac for her anxiety, and needs an hour of walking each day; Stevie, a senior between 13 and 14 years old, who is blind and has diabetes; and 12-year-old Henry, who is “grumpy” and has to have treatments for arthritis in his back legs. Tellier estimates they spend around $10,000 per year in care for the dogs, and that’s on top of the $15,000 she says she spent on a fence for their yard. She doesn’t believe anyone else could or would want to afford those kinds of costs.
Last July, the Board of Public Safety approved a motion to allow more than three dogs at their residence in what Tellier thought was an amicable and sympathetic hearing. Colonel Stephen McCartney said there hadn’t been complaints from neighbors at that time and that the Telliers would be subject to periodic reviews. However, between the time of getting the permission and one of those reviews, some complaints about noise and disturbances were made.
“It got to the level where it was considered to be a nuisance,” McCartney said.
Tellier described ensuing visits from animal control and police that she found upsetting. McCartney confirmed that on April 11 the Board of Public Safety heard testimony from neighbors (both complainants and those in support of Tellier) in addition to recommendations from animal control and ultimately determined that the Telliers had to cut back to three dogs by June 13.
One of the neighbors who complained, who preferred not to be named, said he’s an animal lover himself and doesn’t want to see any of the dogs lose a home. It’s Tellier he takes issue with, and he asserts that many other people on his street also find her difficult to deal with.
“I do feel bad – trust me, I didn’t want to go there and cause a problem for my neighbor,” he said. “But [with] the problems it’s caused in the neighborhood and the way she’s dealt with it, this is the way that the neighborhood has had to deal with it because there’s no resolve.”
Both the neighbor and Tellier dispute many of each other’s claims, though Tellier admits she said some unwarranted things during their arguments. However, she said in her 11 years of living in the home no one else has complained about any of her dogs. She has saved letters in a binder that were written by neighbors who supported her case, one of which said they were surprised there were complaints about her dogs barking as there are others in the vicinity that are louder.
Tellier refuses to give up any of the dogs and is hoping to get an appeal to keep them. She even keeps a log of when her dogs go outside, how long they’re out, whether they bark, and the reason for their barking. She and Ray are weighing options on moving or renting a separate place so they can continue to care for all six dogs in case an appeal doesn’t work out.
Tammy Flanagan, president of the East Greenwich Animal Protection League, said the three dogs currently belong to the League and that it would take them back if it had to. She said Henry and Ramona might stand a chance at finding homes, but she’s seriously concerned about Stevie. It would stress her out to live in a shelter and it would be difficult to find anyone to keep up with her care, she said.
“I feel bad for [Tellier]. I feel bad for the animals,” Flanagan said.
The Board of Public Safety could not be reached for further comment.