40 dogs and 9 cats removed from Utica house, owner plans to fight back

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How many is too many? Forty dogs and nine cats removed from a home in Utica - but the pet owner says the city has it all wrong.

One doesn't have to look hard to see evidence of animals at the Utica house.

Animal control pulled 40 dogs and 9 cats from the house, responding to complaints, but not everyone would call it a neighborhood nuisance.

FOX 2: "As far as the dogs and the smell, was that anything that you noticed?

"No," the neighbor said.

FOX 2 spoke with one neighbor who says she watched the dogs and cats pulled out by animal control. She commented how healthy and well-kept the animals appeared.

When the homeowner let us inside he said he had nothing to hide.

Rick Klee and his wife have lived there for 20 years and always kept pets in their house.

"We've always had quite a few dogs," he said.

Klee admits they had a lot of dogs when police came over.

"Probably more than they should have," Klee said.

The pets were pulled by police after complaints by neighbors numerous times over the years.

"Our dogs do bark I won't say they don't," Klee said.  "We've tried to work with them; he has called the cops on us multiple times."

But this time, Klee says, was different...

"Enough is enough, please show me proof that someone is complaining," he said.

FOX 2: "Did you feel you were being harassed?"

"Yes," he said.

The dogs were taken with a warrant. but the couple hasn't been charged yet.  Police wouldn't comment on the case or let us talk to animal control and see the dogs, who the owner claims are well taken care of.

"Fresh water in the pool, heated, air conditioned, they get treats, chicken, steak, turkey," Klee said. "They're fed great."

Utica does not have a city ordinance when it comes to dogs. But someone from city hall said the animals were taken under the state's kennel ordinance which reads you can't have more than three dogs without a licenses.

"'For the purpose of breeding, sale or otherwise' I don't know what otherwise means," Klee said, reading the ordinance.

Other neighbors say they've seen buyers come to the house to purchase puppies.  Klee says he does have an occasional sale - usually older dogs, but said this is not a puppy mill.

And he plans to fight it in court.

"Not only fight to get them back," Klee said. "But I want to fight to make sure these people lose their jobs. They abused the law."