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Rosalie Lopez, 63, of Valinda, California, began accumulating dogs after the murder of her son and death of her mother. They were her only remaining companions and they kept her emotionially together. "These animals are my family. I depend on them and they depend on me."

With two terriers, a cocker spaniel, a Shih Tzu, and four chihuahuas -- eight dogs in all, plus well over two dozen birds from large parrots to little finches -- it could be argued she suffers from an animal-hoarding behavior. But her house is clean, the animals healthy and well cared for, and really there should be no problem.

For twelve years she lived with multiple pets and no complaints. But between screeching birds and yapping dogs, at least one neighbor eventually, and annonymously, reported a noise nuisance. And once the little tin gods of local government sinks it's teeth into you, you may wish you'd been bitten by a pack of actual dogs instead.

L.A. County Department of Animal Care and Control has ordered Mrs. Lopez to comply with the "three dogs per home" regulation. Animal control manager Lance Hunter said, with typical two-faced bureaucratic self-satisfaction, "We don't want to take people's pets away. All we want is for people to comply with the law." Which means he's gonna take the pets away, callously disregarding that they are Mrs. Lopez's only living family.

Kennel liscenses are available that would permit a homeowner to keep more than three dogs. Mr. Hunter has made it pretty clear he's not going to help facilitate that. There's common human decency, and there are the rules. Guess which one the tin gods prefer. [December 2009. Photo by Bernardo Alps]

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