Gulfport resident Mary Barrett, director and founder of Limbo Chihuahuas-Chihuahua Rescue, was ordered by Special Master James Thaler to pay a $750 penalty and remove all foster dogs from her home. The order was for operating a kennel for her nonprofit animal rescue organization.
Thaler concluded that business was conducted at Barrett's home address, including dog training and volunteer visits to pick up or drop off dogs. He also noted that Barrett's address was listed as the principal address for the organization on Sunbiz.org. Having a business in an R-2 zoning district is not allowed.
As a result, Thaler found Barrett in violation of City Code 22-4.02.
On Wednesday, Barrett's attorney, Diane Griffith filed an Emergency Motion for Stay Pending Appeal with the City of Gulfport. The motion was approved by Gulfport City Attorney Andy Salzman, which stops all fines and the order to remove dogs until the Circuit Court reviews the case.
"I will be proceeding with my appeal to the Circuit Court, which must be filed within 30 days," Griffith wrote in an email to Patch.
Griffith also explained that the city did not have to approve the emergency motion. She writes, "the fact that they did shows me that there are people over there who really care about the welfare of these dogs."
In and email to Gulfport City Councilors, Special Master James Thaler and City Attorney Andy Salzman, Griffith explained that the dogs are "under the care of Dr. Ohman at the Gulfport Vet and are in the middle of very lengthy, expensive treatments. We are not aware of anyone willing to assume the cost and responsibilities for these treatments, and we fear the dogs will have to be euthanized in order to comply with the Special Magistrate's timeline."
Griffith also apologized to officials.
"I also want to apologize again for my outburst in the courtroom, which was unprofessional. I got emotional at the thought of the fate of these dogs who literally have nowhere else to go, but that doesn't excuse my anger."
In the meantime Barrett said she's always looking for foster homes. Learn more about the organization on the group's Facebook page.
Editor's Note: Two documents are attached to this article:
- Emergency Motion for Stay Pending Appeal
- Special Magistrate Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order