St. George reached a last minute agreement in the hallway of Rockland Superior Court Monday, May 20, with the owners of Sparta Kennels to resolve a years-long issue involving infractions of the town's animal control ordinance.

Andrew and Lisa Gerakaris currently own 16 dogs in Tenants Harbor. The couple raise German shepherds for law enforcement, including border patrol and state police.

An ordinance was previously adopted by the town to address barking after complaints were raised, said Town Manager John Falla.

The defendants have agreed to pay the town $750 for 15 complaints, removing all but six or fewer dogs by Nov. 15, and cover the town's legal expenses, totaling $4,000.

The Gerakarises said their dogs are high-end, working-line dogs that are a benefit to the law enforcement community. Following the hearing, Lisa Gerakaris said she is agreeing to the terms because regardless of the financial hardship of not accepting the offer, she does not want to start a battle in the community.

In return, the town has agreed that if the Gerakarises remove the canines by the specified date, potential complaints incurred over the summer will not be pursued, and all fees will be waived.

The town will also approve a pending kennel license for the couple that will end Nov. 15.

The Gerakarises formerly had a kennel license from the town for two years, ending in January, when the town decided not to renew the license, Lisa Gerakaris said.

If more than six dogs remain on the property after Nov. 15, the town reserves the right to go forward with collecting fees and pursuing additional complaints, according to the agreement as explained by town attorney Michael Hodgins of Augusta.

At the hearing, the Gerakarises said they understand the terms and will comply with the resolution. Andrew Gerakaris added he would like to have complaints verified as he believes there is one person that continues to complain because they have a personal vendetta against him.

After the hearing, Lisa Gerakaris said the enforcement of the ordinances has been selective and has targeted her business. After the ordinance was passed, she received a cumulative report of complaints, the bulk of which were from one neighbor.

She said the dogs are housed at night, around 7 p.m., and that they rarely bark unless provoked.

The sentiment has been, move the dogs or go, she said.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm said the town is required to act in good faith to prompt investigations and choose whether or not to prosecute based on complaints.

Gerakaris said he entered into the resolution as he thinks it is the best thing for the town.

Hjelm commended the parties for coming to terms and deciding on a resolution. He said it was a more productive route than having him make a judgment.

"It's better for those involved to determine what happens," he said.

Lisa Gerakaris said she is unsure of what her family will do — whether they will leave the area or not.

"We're just trying to carve out a living," she said after the hearing.

She said the dogs know her as their mother and the hardest part will be finding homes for dogs she has worked with for years.

The agreement still needs to be drafted by Hodgins, sent to the Gerakarises and signed by Hjelm.