By Alex Bridges
FRONT ROYAL - Dog kennels in Warren County face more scrutiny as leaders continue to review proposed tighter rules.
But officials say the regulations would not go much further than what rules exist currently in the county, nor appear different than those in place at the state level. At the same time, Virginia law allows the county to impose rules on kennels stricter than those at the state level, according to local officials.
The Board of Supervisors on Wednesday revisited the issue of proposed changes to the county code aimed at further defining types of kennels and supplemental regulations.
Several kennel owners attended the board's work session during which supervisors discussed the issue but made no final recommendation. Supervisors plan to revisit the matter at their Jan. 15 meeting, at which point the public hearing on the proposed changes continues.
Supervisors also heard from Alice Harrington, a legislative liaison for the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders, who appeared on behalf of the kennel owners.
"We're just concerned that there seems to be a level of interest in regulating dog breeders that we don't see in other places," Harrington said. "I wonder what problem are you trying to solve and maybe there's a different way to go about it."
State law already regulates dog breeders and kennels, Harrington said.
"As you see it there's no need to regulate more than what the state is already regulating, is that what you're saying?" asked board Chairman Archie Fox, to which Harrington concurred.
Harrington also questioned the definition of commercial breeder as used to describe certain kennel operators.
Zoning Administrator Erick Moore gave supervisors information as the board requested at its last meeting. Moore provided a chart showing how other localities such as the counties of Loudoun, Frederick, Fauquier, Albemarle, Clarke and Rappahannock handle kennels.
State code already imposes some requirements on kennels, such as registration as businesses with the local commissioners of the revenue.
Moore noted Warren County would impose less stringent rules than those in some other localities. An animal control officer with the county sheriff's office had told Moore he could include more regulations on kennels. Animal control officers monitor some but not all state rules.
Like Frederick County, Warren County uses a sliding scale to determine the allowable number of dogs in a kennel depending on the site acres.
Supervisor Linda Glavis asked Moore if the county had any kennels operating in the residential district.
"Not legally," Moore replied, but noted some operate in the agricultural district with a conditional-use permit.
The county received a complaint of a kennel run in a residential area on a small lot. The kennel had 10 to 15 dogs, Moore said. However, since most dogs were under 6 months old the county couldn't under current regulations require the kennel to obtain a permit.
Moore also provided a list of the conditional-use permits issued for kennels since 1986, the number of conditions, the proposed maximum amount of dogs allowed and type of operation. Moore also explained the proposed regulations, if approved, would render several operating kennels not compliant with current rules.
State code also requires kennels provide proof of animal vaccinations and that dogs are certified as old enough to breed, according to Moore. The county doesn't have such information from the operating kennels, Moore said.
This summer Moore responded to complaints that a resident operated a kennel without a permit. Moore found nearly a dozen dogs were being housed in crates smaller than adequate under state code.
At the end of the discussion, Fox noted the board needed to continue to look at the proposed regulations further. Moore would address any other concerns or questions raised by the board in advance of their next meeting.
"More regulation's not always better," Fox said. "In fact most of the time less regulations are much better."
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org