Scrutinized dog kennel returning to Planning Commission

FRONT ROYAL – The fate of a dog kennel that burned down last March will once again be discussed by county officials.

The Warren County Planning Commission will decide at its 7 p.m. meeting today whether to continue or revoke the conditional use permit for Wendy Tenney’s kennel at 63 Limeton Road. Since the fire, the shelter has operated out of a temporary structure at the same location.

The kennel originally came under scrutiny in November 2016 after neighbors complained of barking and odors at the property. Animal control officers in a subsequent visit noted that the kennel exceeded its maximum occupancy and not all the dogs were licensed.

Officers also noted a space heater with frayed wiring perhaps caused by chewing. Other safety issues included unsealed concrete that irritated the dogs’ feet and some hygiene issues.

In a December 2016 letter, however, Planner Matt Welding stated that “overall I feel the kennel is being sufficiently maintained as to prevent any threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the adjacent property owners as well as the animals themselves.” He went on to list four conditions that needed to be met for the kennel to be in compliance.

In August 2017, Planning Director Taryn Logan sent a letter notifying Tenney she had 60 days to justify in writing why the permit should not be revoked.

“There is no doubt that this was a tragic and unfortunate accident and we offer our condolences over your loss,” Logan said. “In review of information we have in our county files, we do feel that matters brought to your attention…should have been addressed at that time.”

Logan stated in the letter that because of the documented non-compliance in addressing the “general health and welfare of your dogs” the Planning Commission had “no other choice but to request the Board of Supervisors to revoke your conditional use permit.”

The supervisors in November sent the matter back to the commission for further review.

In January the Planning Commission granted Tenney 30 days to create a proposal that would meet all building and safety requirements.

That proposal was supposed to be presented during the commission’s February meeting but Tenney’s lawyer, Paul Neal, asked it be removed from the agenda. He said that Tenney was still obtaining quotes for the kennel’s renovation and that she had come down with the flu.

The Planning Commission granted Tenney an extension until tonight’s meeting, but the board agreed there would not be another.

Tenney said on Tuesday that she understands the county “has a job to do and that’s fine.”

“They should make sure that kennel owners are treating their animals well and we have always tried to do what’s best for our dogs. I had been inspected shortly before the fire and had received a call indicating the facility was fine. There were a couple items they wanted me to address but the message indicated they weren’t a big deal. If the county or I had seen anything that we thought was either dangerous or a fire hazard, that would have demanded an immediate fix,” Tenney said.

After the meeting, the board’s recommendation will be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors.