Dog Owner Loses Her Plea To Keep 21 Dogs

Shih Tzus

Faith Kilburn shares her West Hartford, Connecticut home with her mother and 21 Shih Tzu dogs. Except, now she has been ordered to reduce the number of her Shih Tzus to three.

Kilburn lost a court appeal of a town directive to reduce the number of pets that she had. The state Superior Court ruled against her, and she has 20 days to appeal the ruling.

The ruling does not impose fines or specify a date by which Kilburn must move 18 of the dogs out of her house.

Officials say that the town does intend to enforce the directive and has the power to levy daily fines if Kilburn is in violation after the appeal period. The town could issue citations with fines and fees of $43 a day for the first five days, $103 a day for the next 10 days and $192 a day thereafter.

This all started in December 2004 when the town plan and zoning commission granted Kilburn a special permit. This gave her until December 6, 2006 to reduce the number of dogs in her home from 22 to three. West Hartford residents can keep two dogs without a permit. (One of the 22 dogs died of natural causes in June.)


Before the deadline, Kilburn asked the commission in December to modify the special permit so she could keep all the dogs.

The commission found that the keeping of 22 dogs in the house was not appropriate or in harmony with the residential neighborhood. After the commission refused to modify the permit, Kilburn went to court in mid-December to appeal the decision. Rittenband [the judge] heard opposing arguments from Omasta [Kilburn’s lawyer] and Alair [the town’s deputy corporation counsel] in July.

Omasta told the judge that Kilburn didn’t have a chance to present her case for modification; she had installed a privacy gate and there had been no neighbors’ complaints and no noise problems, she said. The commission members were biased against Kilburn, Omasta told the judge.

Alair said that there was no evidence of bias and that the commission rejected Kilburn’s request because she did not present substantial evidence that circumstances had changed or that a modification was warranted.

In his ruling, Rittenband said there was no evidence that commission members were biased against Kilburn. Rittenband said the commission’s reason for deciding against Kilburn’s request in 2006 was the same reason it gave in 2004, when it allowed her two years to reduce the number of dogs: that the keeping of so many dogs was not appropriate or in harmony with the neighborhood. He found that the commission had not acted unreasonably, arbitrarily or illegally and dismissed the appeal.

26 Responses to “Dog Owner Loses Her Plea To Keep 21 Dogs”

  1. Lynne says:

    They all look healthy and well cared for to me. This strikes me as terribly sad.

  2. vida says:

    They look well cared for, at a glance anyway. If no one around her complained or was inconvenienced I can’t see any reason to interfere with her family.

  3. Debra says:

    Sorry that is too many dogs. What happens to their level of care if she falls ill? I love my dog. If my work life did not require so much of me, I would have two dogs. From this article, I surmise that this is a suburb. If the woman wishes to keep so many dogs, she should move to a rural area and obtain a proper kennel permit. I would not want to live next door to 22 dogs. This is a hoarding situation that has not gone south yet.

  4. Moonbeam says:

    Twenty-two seems a bit too much. Usually hoarders live in filth and don’t get vet care. Shame she doesn’t live in New York (Queens) where one can have as many dogs as one wishes if all are cared for properly.

  5. Merlin Marshall says:

    While 22 dogs seems a bit excessive, as long as she can properly care for them, doesn’t breed them, and doesn’t annoy the neighbors, then why should it matter? This snooty suburb is not a place I want to live. They probably have restrictions on the color you can paint your house, what kind of car you can buy, and other invasive policies so that everyone looks like the same piece of whitebread. No thanks!

  6. Moonbeam says:

    They look healthy and loved. So who cares???? I bet keeping the place clean is easier with 22 smaller dogs than with 5 big ones.

  7. catmom5 says:

    I hope she’s in a position to move to somewhere she can keep her dogs, IF that’s an option. The dogs do look healthy and well cared for, but that does seem over the top. I just know this must be very difficult all the way around.

  8. NH says:

    I hope she can find good, loving homes for them. Or, she should move out to the country where she can keep a lot of dogs. Poor things. This breaks my heart.

  9. Sue says:

    This town is about 25 miles from where I live. Yes, it is a very weathy suburb of Hartford. Apparently, according to previous news stories on this situation, this woman’s home is immaculate. And the dogs are all very well cared for, as reported by animal control officials who have been inside the home.
    But still, one has to wonder why this woman ever got so many dogs in the first place. And why she thought it was okay to keep them in a residential neighborhood, without a kennel license. I have owned as many as 6 dogs at a time, and know there is just no way to provide that many dogs with adequate individual attention, no matter how much time one has. These dogs would probably be far better off in loving individual homes, or homes with one other dog. The fact is, she never should have gotten so many dogs to begin with.

  10. DW says:

    Debra said

  11. Jen says:

    I feel bad for her that she has to give up her dogs, but the fact is she is breaking a law. She should never have gotten that many dogs to begin with if it wasn’t allowed. Obviously, she loves them but if she doesn’t like the fact that she is limited on how many pets she can have, then she should move. I am only allowed to have 2 dogs as well and even if I wanted 3, I would never dream of bringing in a 3rd dog b/c it is against the zoning law here.

  12. marty says:

    The goverment doesnt limit the # of children allowed for families on welfare w/ 10 kids and another on the way but they limit the # of pets you are allowed to have.

    Her pups look well taken care of and the goverment (or we) are not having to support them. They should let her and her pups be in this “Land of the Free”.

  13. Merlin Marshall says:

    The big question is which came first, the law or the dogs. If she had the dogs before the law was enacted, she should be grandfathered and allowed to keep the dogs as long as they are well cared for and not a nuisance to the neighbors. If the law was in place when she moved there, then she really has no grounds for keeping more than the law allowed, since it was her choice to move to a place which limited pets.

    Yea, it irks me too when people are allowed to crank out as many snot-nosed screaming ill-mannered brats as they physically can and allow them to run wild, but someone can’t keep a lot of well mannered, well cared for animals who don’t inconvenience anyone.

  14. Sue says:

    This lady has lived in this house for 30 years. And apparently, had been breeding these Shih Tzus till 6 years ago, when she had her last litter. Which is why she has so many. From the breedings. It seems that the town of West Hartford has had a zoning regulation during all this time, restricting the number of dogs residents can have in one house. But no one ever complained about this lady’s dogs, so the town never enforced the limit on her. And then, one day, a neighbor did complain about the number, so the town then went ahead with enforcing the limit, giving this lady two years to place most of these dogs. She did not even attempt to place a single one. This lady apparently ran an illegal breeding business for years in this location, despite the regulations. And now, because she got away with it for 15 years, she wants the town to give her a special permit to keep all these dogs till they die. Sure, she is no longer breeding. But why should she be allowed to own all those dogs, most of which she created by breeding illegally at this location? These are not rescues. These dogs wouldn’t even exist if she had obeyed the rules in the first place.

  15. Stefani says:

    So, are they up for adoption? They sure are cute.

  16. KimS says:

    She’s obviously single.

  17. mittens says:

    nobody’s stopping 5 plus crack ‘ho brats being born to welfare mothers with no fathers on the other less affluent side of hartford.. and those ‘pups’, in an environment of crime, poverty and neglect ,tend to grow up as far more of a strain on a society’s resources and, frankly safety, then healthy, loved, well cared for and well behaved lap dogs.

    where i live right now is a crack house and corner phone booth that are the thriving center of glaringly obvious drug dealing and it’s associated violent and felonious crimes against PERSONS. the police station is 3 blocks’s certainly not in keeping with the ‘ harmony’ of the neighborhood and the cops and city officials don’t do a damn thing about it… but i bet if i didn’t recylce they’d send the SWAT team in to pound me into pc submission. imagine if i had a baby lovin, kitten smooching pit bull-i’d probably be carted off to jail.

    completely misplaced values- making criminals out of average citizens for minor violations of ‘ community values’ and allowing the real criminals who harm humans, even kill them , flourish.

  18. marty says:

    Merlin says:

    Yea, it irks me too when people are allowed to crank out as many snot-nosed screaming ill-mannered brats as they physically can and allow them to run wild, but someone can’t keep a lot of well mannered, well cared for animals who don’t inconvenience anyone.

    I agree totally!


    Your right. You would be hauled off to jail and they would take your pit bull away and put him/her to death while the crack heads get away with a simple slap on the hand (if even that). And our tax dollars go to protect each and every one of them. It’s a shame isnt it?

    and to the neighbor who complained….. I have a word or two for you that I can not post on this board!

  19. Trudy Jackson says:

    You guys are all so right! Some people can have a dozen kids they don’t really want and overpopulate the world. these dogs look very well cared for. Why does someone have to stick their nose in things all the time? I think We become more communist all the time. I’d rather see the dogs than a bunch of uncared for kids.

  20. wescott20 says:

    Marty, Mittens and Trudy…I totally agree with all of you! The authorities have really gotten their priorities completely out of whack….harassing responsible pet owners while allowing human welfare parasites to continue their vicious cycle unchecked, thus reducing the quality of life for all of us through rampant violent crime.

  21. deej says:

    gotta say - I love the itchmo folks!

    “pound me into pc submission” lol - though a bit to close to the truth in my pc neighborhood!

    I can see some room for discussion, but not a lot when the dogs and house are immaculately cared for (though where’s the line - my house is a mess!)

    I do think that an awful lot of small dogs can get loads of affection all at the same time - it looks as though they’re happily socialized also - maybe that would be the real test?

  22. marty says:

    This lady loves these pups and takes care of them. They are better taken of, better behaved and surely have better manners than many of the kids I’ve run across!

    I would like to file a complaint about the family with 6 kids, 2 are well behaved and the other 4 are painting gang signs & causing problems throughout the neighborhood.

    I can guarantee that not one of her pups are out there smoking crack, dealing drugs, robbing, raping or killing anyone.

    If they were abused and/or were causing problems in the neighborhood…I could understand but this doesn’t appear to be the case.

    I personally would rather live next door to 22 well behaved dogs than live next to 4 snot nosed misbehaved rug rats!

  23. Kevin says:

    You people are hilarious! I think this has to be some of the funniest responses to an article I have ever read on Itchmo. I do agree with all of you regarding the rabid, snot nose, crack dealing, drug using, undisciplined f****s of kids that could be living next door. I’ll take the dogs any day.

    If she does have to give up the dogs, what will that do to her health and well-being? It took me over a year to get over my cat Micro when I had to put him down. He was with me over 17 ½ years. To give up 21 dogs that she seems to really care for could be devastating for her.

  24. Lynn says:

    What a dilemma. Why?

    1. Because I was raised in that part of Ct and know just know crazy they can be with zoning regulations.
    2. Because her residence is supposedly immaculate.
    3. Because the dogs are [at least on the surface] very well cared for. Shih Tzus take lots of daily grooming.
    4. Because the zoning laws changed after she moved there.
    5. Because one neighbor found fault [remind you of Schultz from Key West and the Hemingway cats?].
    6. Because in southern CA it’s not unusual to see a whole community of Hispanics or Asians [no offense intended] living in one condo. We’re talking about 10 people for two rooms.
    7. Because taxes won’t be paying for the dogs’ upkeep, whereas they will bleed everyone dry for supporting the education system for the kids next door.
    8. If she was breeding them, why oh why?
    9. And mostly because more than any other breed, Shih Tzus are closest to my heart.

  25. Lynn says:

    Hey, read this about Rittenband, the judge.

    One quote from the above [though do read the whole thing]:

    “Enfield needs to wake up, and rein in their corrupt leaders and residents. “

  26. marty says:

    Lynn says:

    7. Because taxes won’t be paying for the dogs’ upkeep, whereas they will bleed everyone dry for supporting the education system for the kids next door.

    You got that right!

    Slightly off the subject:
    On one of the news shows last week Newt Gingrich said we should pay snot nosed misbehaved thugs located in what he referred to as “poorer communities” minimum wage to go to school. He believes that paying them would help to keep them from robbing and dealing drugs during the school day.

    That has got to be one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. Next to not letting this woman keep her dogs.

    FYI - Here come the vegetables now folks.

    FDA Warns of Potential Botulism Risk from Canned French Cut Green Beans

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