It could be said that Kimi Peck loves her 170 dogs a bushel and a peck. A love that is so great she has sacrificed everything for them.
Her story started about 20 years ago, when she started rescuing dogs that others thought were unlovable.
In an interview Thursday with the Tehachapi News, Peck said that 10 of the dogs — including two big white Pyrenees and an Australian sheep dog – are her own, and the rest are rescues.
Peck said that since 1994, she has rescued and adopted out 5,000 dogs – but the ones she has now, nobody wants.
They are old, they disabled, they are aggressive and some, she said, are just plain mean.
Peck is committed to taking care of these unloved canines as long as they live.
“Nobody will take them,” Peck said. “I love them and will take care of them for the rest of their lives.”
The problem, her neighbors have complained about the barking, causing the county to take action. This isn’t a new scenario, two years ago the same thing happened when Kimi Peck lived in Burbank, CA causing her to pack up her dogs and move to rural Water Canyon.
On Tuesday, March 3, the Kern County Board of Supervisors declared her in violation of county zoning law and imposed a $5,000 fine coupled with a $500-a-day fine, to be activated if she has not begun the process of obtaining permit for her facility within 30 days.
Although all the dogs are personally licensed to her and there is no law in Kern County regulating the number of dogs she can have, Peck will need to apply for a Conditional Use Permit to run a kennel.
To get such a permit, the neighbors have to agree.
The neighbors, annoyed by the barking that ricochets through the rolling hills and who brought the complaint to the attention of the code compliance staff, are not likely to agree.
Which leaves Peck with about 170 dogs and nowhere to go.
She said a few days ago that she would euthanize them if the Supervisors decided against her.
That may be ultimately the only option, but for now, she is applying for that conditional use permit.
She had given her word that she would do so.
She has a meeting with the county code compliance department Friday, March 6 in Bakersfield.
“It’s going to cost $20,000 to stay here two more months,” she said. “No way will it [permit] be approved. They finally found a loophole in the law.”
After the hearing Tuesday she said, “I am sad and I am hurt and I am scared for our dogs.”
She argued that her property is not a kennel and therefore not in violation.
“Asking me to get a CUP is a ploy to get me, to get Kimi Peck out of Kern County.”
Nearby homeowner Steve Benedict said, “She has made a very unfortunate and gross misjudgment about where to put her shelter.”
What a sad story. I can respect how her neighbors feel, but her home is tucked into 23 oak-covered rural acres. Is it her fault the sound echoes? Her dogs are all licensed and well taken care of, she has regular veterinarian care, and spends over $4,000 a month to feed the dogs.
To me, Kimi Peck is an extraordinary woman, and instead of getting recognition for all she has done she’s getting penalized. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem fair.
UPDATE: New information has been brought to my attention about this situation, not exactly as it seems. Please see updated post on March 11, 2009.