By Katie Demeria
FRONT ROYAL -- A defense company wants to open a facility in Front Royal to train dogs to detect explosive devices.
Dogs for Defense International, part of the larger defense company SOC LLC, presented its request at the Warren County Planning Commissions meeting on July 9.
The company was hoping to receive a conditional use permit for its facility at 280 Kelley Court in Front Royal, which is part of the industrial district, to contain approximately 35 kennels for dogs.
They are to be included at the next public hearing in August, when public comments will be allowed.
According to the company's presentation, given by Vice President of Mission Support Mike Jenkins, Dogs for Defense serves government clients who use the dogs in Afghanistan or Iraq, for example.
Their primary kennel and training center is located in Minnesota.
Warren County Planning Director Taryn Logan said concerns from neighbors would likely have to do with noise from barking and the explosive devices stored on site that are used to train the dogs.
"They said it will be a minute amount," Logan said. "They will have just enough to help the dogs pick up the scent."
Logan added that she was told barking would not be a problem. The dogs are highly trained specifically not to bark, she said. While on the job, they will be doing such dangerous tasks as sniffing out suicide bombers.
"They do also have space that is sound proof," she said. "It's in the middle of the building and right next to their office space."
There will be some outdoor training, she added. The facility is on about an acre of fenced land. Obstacle training will be conducted outside.
The dogs are trained through the Department of Justice's National Odor Recognition Test and Multiple National Narcotics Standards, according to the presentation.
Dogs for Defense has a "dog first" philosophy, the presentation stated. After being carefully selected, "the dog's health and welfare is paramount to everything [they] do."
The dogs are assigned to handlers during their careers. Logan said the dogs are usually trained over a 14-week period, and while not in training they will stay with their handlers in hotels.
The presentation pointed out that this situation would result in revenue for local businesses and Warren County.
"It's was very interesting to hear," Logan said.
Those interested in hearing more about the business or offering comments can attend the planning commission's next public hearing at 7 p.m. Aug. 13 in the Warren County Government Building at 220 North Commerce Ave.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org