Dog Owner To Challenge Center Township Ordinance


Sant Kreal "Gotika" / Photo © Lynn Claypoole

A small dog breeder in Center Township has received a Cease And Desist Order demanding he get rid of his animals. Lynn Claypoole, of 300 Bunker Hill Road, received a notice from Center’s Zoning Officer citing a township ordinance prohibiting more than 4 animals being kept on a property. The letter noted Claypoole is subject to a $500 fine for each day he fails to come into compliance.

Claypoole says he’s been breeding his world-class Doberman Pinschers for the past 7 years without issue “I have never had a single problem with any of my animals, no excessive barking, no foul odors, never a bite incident… none of my animals have ever escaped my property.”

Claypoole lives on 5.5 acres in the township, and has another 7.5 acres which he planned on using to breed and train his dogs. He says he lives “in the boonies”, and has few neighbors other than his aunt.

“We’re talking about dogs that cost $5,000. Everything I do on my property is done top-notch” said Claypoole, who regularly imports champion European bloodlines from Russia, Serbia, and other parts of Europe to breed.

“They told me I could try to apply for a variance, but the more I thought about all of this, the more I felt it was wrong” said Claypoole “So I hired an attorney and I’m going to challenge the Constitutionality of this ordinance and the township’s authority to enact it [...] Sure townships can pass ordinances prohibiting nuisances, but they can’t define a nuisance in terms of an arbitrary number of animals.”

Lynn Claypoole has retained attorney Jason Plakosh to represent him at a hearing with the Zoning Board, which is scheduled for December 14 at 7:00 p.m. in the Assembly Room of Center Township’s Municipal Building.

“If I lose this hearing I’ll sue the Township. If they actually cite me for violating the ordinance, I’ll take this before a judge” said Claypoole “I just want to be left alone.”

Township Zoning Officer John Plutko could not be reached to comment in time for this report.

 

26 comments

  1. Henry Statkowski

    Does the township possess the authority to pass such an ordinance? In the case of Commonwealth v. Creighton, _ PA. Cmwlth., 639 A.2d 1296 (1994), the municipal government lacked such authority, and their pet limit ordinance was overthrown.

    The Court found there was no proof of a rational relationship between the number of animals per household and the government objective of controlling nuisances.

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  2. I came across this absurdity on the internet.
    How many more rules? How many more regulations?
    Let this man BE.

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    • Nancy Kolakowski

      I have had to guard my mother who at the time was in her late 80′s and lived next door.
      She has a small garden next to her house and was afraid to go outside alone because the jack russels and pitbull from Mr. Claypooles had already come into her yard and chased her into her house. You say leave this man alone. What about the rights of his neighbors
      to have a safe and peaceful time in the yard they have lived in since 1954 without this threat? The article posted is very deceiving, there are many families that live on Bunker Hill Road. A great portion of the acreage he lists are not where the house and kennels are …they are very close to the road and numerous neighbors. It is a sad situation.

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      • Listen BITCH….you haven’t lived on this road or in this state for over 25 years! Guard your mother? How….long distance? Your mom ran when she saw a dog on the road! She hated them! She doesn’t even live there any longer!!

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  3. This exchange has apparently taken a turn for the worse.

    I will note that the Cease & Desist in this case, which I have seen, does not reference any complaints about the animals — It is simply about the number of animals on the property.

    I will also note that before publishing this story I did a search of court records, and found no citations issued related to the animals.

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    • Thankyou John for getting the FACTS right!

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      • …it should be spelled be-awch, for a nicer way of putting things, in my opinion. PLAY NICE. What you described is a dog in heat, an animal. I’m sure this fella’ knows quite well with what type ‘creatures’ he must try to have pacified. Dog spelled backwards is pronounced what? Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Season’s Greetings, and/or whatever all you ‘BC Peeps’ celebrate (we are all so diverse). This article surely was a ‘festivus for the rest of us’. Glad Tidings !!

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  4. @ Nancy.

    While I can appreciate your mothers Constitutional right to live in peace and safety, it seems she had an apparent disdain for dogs, this doesn’t negate her previously aforementioned rights. On the other hand, we don’t like kids, they scream and play and play in our woods, never a problem, we tolerate them. There are other dogs in the area that on occasion do slip their collars and roam, not a problem, and I take them home, or have their owners pick them up, for the animals own protection. The pit bull I did have was a rescue dog that I took care of for 8 years. I took care of her as she was a very sweet dog and kept her so that she would not be used for dog fighting. In the 8 year tenure I had her there were only two people she did not care for, and quite frankly, I agreed with the dog, I don’t like them either. I would not have a dog that was mean or vicious, one dog that did turn aggressive was re-homed into an appropriate environment suitable for his nature.

    There is nothing deceptive as you indicate within this story concerning our acreage, the Recorder of Deeds maps and a recent survey indicate this. You say there are many families on Bunker Hill Rd., there are, but not near us, so I am unsure why you are trying to spin this otherwise.

    This story is about my Dobermans, and only one time did one run into another’s yard, this happened so long ago (5-6 yrs ago, and it was never a problem), I had actually forgotten about it, but since that time I have probobaly returned two dozen dogs to their rightful owners.

    Seems as if ignorance and fear mongering runs rampant around here. I have many times told people to stop by and see my guys, but do they? No. I wouldn’t have an aggressive dog PERIOD! No matter what breed it may be. Matter of fact, i think my wife is meaner!

    Understanding and tolerance can go a long way to mutual understanding and harmony, this story is about a Constitutional challenge to the pet limit laws. otherwise maybe we should institute China’s one child policy as is my Constitutional Right to not be annoyed by kids, or loud polka music for that matter, but I tolerate it. Having children and pets are rights guaranteed under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, believe it or not there is no flavor for exception, one over the other.

    I have gone through very intense efforts to provide a state of the art facility for my Dobermans. What you may not realize is I don’t want my guys to be a nuisance MORE than you or anyone else for that matter want to be bothered by barking dogs or dogs running at large. However, I believe I have taken much further steps with my own dogs than some parents with their own children, but I tolerate it

    The Constitution is god inspired, one of the most important documents ever written in humanity’s time, if we do not protect each and every aspect of this document, you soon may be living under a one child policy, this is not so far fetched. Though I personally would welcome it (remember, I don’t like kids), it is more important to me to protect this document in it’s entirety and tolerate the wishes of others (and their kids) than to be told what I can and cannot do.

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    • I refuse to believe your wife is mean…….LOL. (I’ll bet a nice choker chain in your stocking is on her list)

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    • Mrlynn, As i have read this article and comments, it looks an feels that the local government is singleing you out to appease those who feel that they have a right to take one’s rights away while retaining their own. Is that right? NO. Is it Constitutional? NO. Every Natural Born American Citizen of this Country has their rights under God(for those who believe) and the Constitution. Those rights are retained from God, NOT the government, wheather local, city, state and federal.
      They have no basis nor legal or Constitutional cause to file and deliver a Cease and Desist Order,, and is UnConstitutional to pass laws that limit to who can have what an how many. Under the Constitution, the rights that it gives us, is total freedom and Liberties to pursue happiness in any means WE SEE FIT. If it does NOT harm person or property, then NO ONE, not even government can tell you “you can’t do that”

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  5. i agree with john,,,

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  6. Nancy Kolakowski

    Excuse me, I may no longer live at the property I grew up on but I have visited my family home over the years. I have been there when my mother lived there permanently, as I said…and can report what I witnessed. My mother does occasionally still have the occasion to return to her home. Very interesting response to the fact that your dogs caused worry for other people. Even though this article is about dobermans it is also necessary to point out that there are other dogs being brought to the property and as I stated earlier they do not always stay on Mr. Claypoole’s property. I am not sure how whether or not Mr. Claypoole liked children or not came into the picture….or the name calling…

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  7. keithchristopher

    Nancy, seems that you are a Lone Wolf in stirring a pot that in YOU or Your MOTHER’s case is long past it’s due date…First or all, you’re arguing a case that for all intents and purposes is NOT your case and is also negligible now. His DOBIES have done NOTHING wrong. I appreciate that fact that Mr. Claypoole has plenty of property to breed, raise and train these beautiful animals. Much better than the twits with 13 cats in a small home. The ordinance should NOT include BREEDERS who have more than the average 2/3 of an acre lot in Center Twp. This gentleman has over 12 acres collectively and should be excluded from said zoning. FIGHT ON MR. CLAYPOOLE, I grew up in Center and the Big Brother just keeps making laws…amazing…

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  8. Nancy, if you would like to engage in some meaningful didactic dialogue, i will ask that you read and attempt to understand what is being conveyed to you. I am very easy to talk too AND get along with, but I have no patience nor time for ignorance. Please re-read my post. Furthermore, your post is off topic to the constitutional challenge of the article

    At Keith, Much of what you said is correct. The courts, in several cases here in the State of PA have ruled the Pet Limit Laws by Borough’s to be invalid and illegal. They too have ruled that animals are “Living Creatures” and not just inanimate objects for the limiting. Further, the courts have ruled that Borough’s cannot enact an ordinance on a perceived nuisance, but most of all, the borough’s were never given authority to limit pets.

    We have since had a hearing, we expect to lose, we expected as such and will get this resolved within the courts, all the way to the State Supreme Court if need be. The Borough must rewrite their codes including in language of how they are going to deal with nuisances they have actual authority over, i.e. dogs barking at night, stray dogs, etc. It is up to the Township to decide if this is a case they want to pay to defend -or- rewrite the code within the jurisdiction given to them.

    Reads on the subject can be found here:

    http://www.theanimalcouncil.com/files/Commonwealth_v_Creighton.pdf

    and

    http://www.animallaw.info/cases/causpa74pa_d_c539.htm

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  9. This sounds like they’re just issuing the citation based on a vague ordinance, without taking into account your situation. You run a legitimate business on a large piece of your property, you invest a lot of money in maintaining the dobermans and making sure that not only they are kept safe, but that they are kept enclosed and away from others in the neighborhood. Hopefully a judge will take the time to look at your unique case and decide based on that rather than ruling by an ordinance that is unconstitutional and takes your rights away.

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  10. I would like to say something before we even discuss this silly ass ruling that you have imposed or trying to impose on this law abiding tax paying citizen. If you pay your property taxes and other taxes (Which he has and has never been late while being a resident there for years then this is all about money (Shame on you Center Township) to line your pockets. You all should do your job as a county and quite nit picking on law abiding tax paying citizens. A man is trying to have the american dream and that is to have a small business on His OWN LAND WHICH HE OWNS AND PAYS TAXES ON IT. Each and everyone of you should look into the mirror and ask yourself (Why) Mr Lynn has broken no laws. Why don’t you concentrate on the illegals in your county and DO NOT PAY TAXES that MR LYNN has to pay for. The Citizens of Center Township are watching this case and you may not have a job come election time, so if i were you, I would think twice about what you enforce that is not a policy and while we are at it. I think a state audit of your facilities should be in order looking at your SOP, Manuals, etc to see if they are up to code. If you have any questions on this please by all means call me so I can enlighten each and everyone of you on basics of book keeping. Thank you for your time in this matter and hope you drop this case for your own ignorance and for using outdated materials.

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  11. Lynn, your dogs are beautiful! You are a true breeder, and anyone can see that you care more about the health and welfare of your babies than many ‘breeders’. Hopefully someone will visit you and the dobermans to see with their own eyes what the truth is and that you have a handle on the whole situation!! I am wishing you the best of luck!! People do not see such beauty in animals, unless they are well breed! Keep doing what you do! I will pray for you!!

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  12. I have to say that the debate I am reading from people on here seems more of a personal attack on Mr. & Mrs. claypoole than on the issue at hand. I have been to not only Mr. claypoole’s home but to the Kennels he is building. I am in fact not a dog lover but have never had a problem with the dogs at his home or kennels barking accessively or being aggressive towards me or my children. As a matter of fact my children love these animals very much. I never fear that they will be attacked because I have seen how well trained and well taken care of these animals are. I understand the sometimes paralyzing fear of dogs but I truely don’t feel that fear with the animals in question.

    I personally live in the country and have neighbors that live near by but not exactly what I would call close. Which is the case that I have viewed upon visiting Mr Claypoole’s properties. I hear more barking at my home from the neighborhood dogs than I do from the ones that are on this property in question.

    I agree with Mr. claypoole, come and visit. Stop in and see what the new structure is like and how well behaved his dogs are. See that the noise level is not any higher with his dogs than with my 4 children playing in the yard or wrestling in the living room.

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  13. I agree with John 100%. Trying to enforce a cease and desist simply on the number of animals present is ridiculous. No complaints about the animals no citations, nothing. No issues such as barking, smell, biting, then what the hell is the problem?!

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  14. Dr. Nowak,

    You are absolutely correct, there is more to it. I never heard of this Zoning Officer before in my life until after he asked my wife out to lunch. But that’s another matter for a different day, and that day is coming!

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  15. I don’t understand either what the problem is either. I say leave this guy alone and let him do his breeding a training- there is no reason to shut him down. I saw someone else state that having 13 cats in a small area is worse, and I totally agree- that’s unhealthy. HAving any “law” of how many animals you’re allowed on your property is pathetic. People with Farms can only have one pig, one horse, one dog one cat and one cow?! I think not. I think this case should just get thrown out!!!

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  16. i have known Lynn all his life. He was raised to be considerate of his neighbors and to be kind to animals. He is one of the most hard working people I know…and so is his wife Debbie. Lynn has taken every percaution to see that his neighbors are not bothered by the animals…and that the animals are all very well cared for. It seems to me that there are more harmful & more serious things going on in the community than this. We need to know our neighbors and care about them; in doing so, we are grooming a better place for all of us to live.

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  17. Unbelievable!!! If you can’t have more then 4 animals on a property , what do you do when a cat or dog has a liter? Kill them? Give the animal a abortion? You can’t just pick a number out of thin air and say that’s it .

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  18. This is absurd. I take that back, this is beyond being absurd. I can not think of the proper word to use for the actions of those involved in restricting one’s rights.
    No complaints on the dogs owned by this gentleman. No citations, no complaints, no attacks, no abuse nor neglect, nor any other negative claims against this man nor his animals. Yet, for no reason they decide to drop this on him. A man who has owned this property, raised, imported, and bred these pets in better care than the majority of government ran shleters…………. but you jump on him and tell him to quit.
    Here’s a thought, why don’t we send the township council members a message by demanding a law suit against the behavior of animals in their local shelter? Demand they treat those animals better, file a complaint with a animal activists group. Ask them to look into the treatment, or rather neglect that is going on in their shelter.
    I can say most ppl can and will say just throwing in food and water into a small kennel for dogs with very little human interaction is neglectful.
    Yet this man, who not only trains his animals, exercises them, allows them free time, running areas, human interaction numerous times every day, all emdical and basic needs met, as well as emotional needs being met is being judged. A man who made sure his kennels had heated floors for his dogs, who makes sure their health and well being is all met…………. does this make sense?
    The twp council members should cease. They should also rewrite the ordiance to be more suited. A person with that much acreage should be allowed more pets on premises. Taken in all the considerations, this is what seems right to me.

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  19. Can anyone tell me exactly what harm Mr. Clayppol has caused? He has been running his kennel for the past 7 years, if I read correctly, and not one citation nor complaint issued against him, yet the township decides to take action against him.
    I understand upholding the law, without laws in place and being enforced choas happens.
    However I do not agree with the actions being placed.
    I know many cities, townships have restrictions on how many pets a home can acquire. Most however are based on square footage. When one comes with more than the average square footage, such as Mr. Claypool has, accomendations are made. Most ordiances include this in it. For example a person who has a city lot in MN can only have up to 4 pets in their home, this includes both feline and canine. If the owner has over an acrea the amount of pets they are allowed to have is then increased.
    Considering Mr.Claypool has owned and ran this kennel on 12 acreas with no citations, complaints, and his pets are well maintained, provided and cared for, the council members should rule in favor of him based on these circumstances.
    I would think the township council members would be on board, as well as updating their own ordiances.

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  20. Does anyone know how this turned out?

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