PEPPERELL -- A Heald Street resident appeared before the Board of Health last week to address concerns raised by the board on her co-habitation with an unusually large number of dogs inside her home.
During previous meetings, the board had questioned the living conditions at the 82 Heald Street property. Those concerns were heightened in April when Animal Inspector Robin Hebert advised board members that "standing at the door, you can smell the urine."
"The concern with the Board of Health is your health," said Chairman Phillip Durno to Bonnie Blanchette.
Blanchette acknowledged that she has a large number of dogs living in her house and has had them there for many years.
"I have 18 in my house, one in a side room, and two in an outdoor kennel. And I have for about 10 years," she said.
"It's not the best situation," said Blanchette who outlined a number of personal issues impacting her living situation.
"I would like to build a nice kennel for them, but I've got people complaining about my horses now," she said.
"These are the misfits. I love animals -- that's why I have them. But they've been with me a long time. I hate to give them up. If I could get help to have someone come over and help me clean that's great. I just didn't think anybody would help me with my dogs," said Blanchette who acknowledged that vacuuming and mopping had become physically challenging for her.
"Our concern basically is not with the dogs. That's another department altogether. Our concern is with you. Our concern is for your health, and your living quarters, and how you're living," said Durno.
"Will you allow Kalene, who is our health agent and very knowledgeable, into your home for a visit," asked board member Virginia Malouin.
"Oh yeah, I said yes, that's okay," said Blanchette.
"Just understand that there are repercussions in the event that there are violations present in your home," said Kalene Gendron.
"I could issue an order to have you correct items within a certain timeframe that could impair or endanger your health," she said.
"I have old dogs. They will go to the bathroom on the floor. I'm not going to put my dog down because she's old. If I mop it up, that's the best I can do," said Blanchette.
"The first floor of my house is a kennel -- it's a dog kennel," she said.
Blanchette is also required to renew her kennel license this month. The renewal will require an inspection by the Animal Control Officer and must meet new stricter requirements established by the state.
In other business
The board expressed dissatisfaction with the progress made by the owner of 141 Townsend Street regarding repairs to a failed septic system. Thomas Greenaway appeared before the board in February and was given 90 days to complete the Title 5 repairs to his system. The issue has been before the board since May 2006. Greenaway was given the option of requesting further time if the May 5 deadline was too aggressive.
The board agreed to hold a public hearing to address the issue more formally, noting that Greenaway had not formally requested additional time.
Gendron noted that she had yet to receive any plans for approval.