A St. George couple say a verbal agreement reached in court with the town last month is not the same they have now been asked to formally accept.

Lisa Gerakaris said when she and her husband agreed to reduce the number of dogs in their kennel from 20 to six, they did it to get along with neighbors and mitigate tension.

In May, Sparta Kennels, owned by Lisa and Andrew Gerakaris, and the town of St. George reached a verbal agreement in court to resolve a years-long issue involving infractions of the town's animal control ordinance.

Now, the Gerakarises say the agreement made in Knox County District Court is not the same as the agreement they were asked to officially accept.

The couple raise German shepherds for law enforcement, including border patrol and state police.

The defendants initially 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.

In return, the town formerly agreed 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.

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

The agreement sent to the couple this month stipulated they reduce their kennel to not six, but four canines.

"Six to four basically puts me out of business," Lisa said.

They will not accept the agreement now, with the change, she said. They have sent a letter to the court to reconsider the case.

Attorney for St. George, Michael Hodgins, said the maximum number of dogs allowed without a state kennel license is determined by state statute, not the town.

He said the kennel license statute was not part of the barking dog violation, but was discussed as part of the resolution.

Hodgins said when it was discussed outside the courtroom in May, the maximum number allowed without a license was represented as six.

"No one confirmed if that figure was consistent with the statute, it was assumed by all to be correct," he said.

"It's likely this will affect the resolution. If the parties can't resolve the conflict between the language of the licensing statute and number we thought was applicable, the parties will likely have to proceed to a hearing on the merits," Hodgins said.

The Gerakarises requested the court start the case anew "because the town of St. George and its representatives clearly once again have not kept to their agreement," said a letter sent by the couple to the court.

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.

After the hearing last month, 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.

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

Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at jlaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.