Family Facing Tough Choice: Law Says They Have Two Dogs Too Many

By Krol, Eric | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 23, 1997 | Go to article overview

Family Facing Tough Choice: Law Says They Have Two Dogs Too Many


Krol, Eric, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Eric Krol Daily Herald Staff Writer

Like the members of any family, the five Scharm family dogs each have a personality of their own.

Corky, like a child who won't let go of Mom's leg, is so attached to Ann Scharm that he once jumped out of an open kitchen window to get to her. Daisy is the proverbial queen: sure, she'll beg for table scraps, but turns her nose up at bread crusts.

Nugget has a problem walking and probably will end up with her hind legs in a wheel cart. At age 9, Brandie has arthritis and probably won't be around much longer. The ultra-hyper Trixie has a penchant for wiggling her entire body.

So it's no surprise the Scharms were crushed when a city of Elgin building code inspector visited the their Hendee Street house two months ago with an apologetic look on his face. The inspector told the Scharms they have two more dogs than city law allows.

"It's totally unfair," said Melissa, 13. "It's like being stabbed in the back."

The building inspector, however, was only doing his job.

Like most towns, Elgin has a law limiting the number of dogs. In Elgin, that number is three, the same as Aurora and Palatine.

That's also right in the ballpark with Arlington Heights, Schaumburg and Barrington, where a maximum of four dogs is allowed. Hoffman Estates is more liberal, allowing five dogs, while Carpentersville permits a miserly two canines.

Officials from most of those towns say the dog-limit law is one that's really not enforced.

In that regard, the Scharms' plight represents a test case of sorts to see whether a city will enforce a little-known law despite delivering some sizable emotional repercussions in the process.

"These dogs mean everything to us," said Ann Scharm, wife and mother of four children, all dog-attached. "They're like relatives to us."

Clay Pearson, director of Elgin's building code enforcement department, said his inspectors only enforce the three-dog law when called with a complaint.

Rewind to Memorial Day, when Scharm says her daughter called the police after unsuccessfully asking a pair of neighborhood boys to stop hitting a Wiffle ball into her car. …

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