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Commercial dog kennel allowed to operate near Carstairs

Baby Barks Kennel obtains permit from Mountain View County board after owner appealed municipal planning commission's decision to deny

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - The county’s subdivision and development appeal board (SDAB) has approved an appeal of an earlier municipal planning commission (MPC) denial of a development permit application for a commercial kennel with setback relaxation to exercise yards on a 15.78 acres parcel in the Jackson rural community west of Carstairs.

The applicant had proposed a maximum of 59 dogs on site at any given time, with the 59 dogs including adult dogs and puppies. The kennel facility is 3,800 square feet in size.

The MPC approving authority denied the application in October. The appeal hearing before the SDAB was held on Dec. 7.

Kennel commercial is a discretionary use in the agricultural district.

The property involved is located about one kilometre north of Twp. Rd. 303 east of Rge. Rd. 25 at NE 19-30-2-5. Baby Barks Kennel focuses exclusively on Bichon Shih Tzus dogs.

The kennel has been in operation without a development permit and the application for the permit was not driven by a complaint, said Margaretha Bloem, Mountain View County director of planning and development.

In making its original decision to refuse the application the MPC cited four reasons: operation too large to meet with the welfare of animals involved – care of animal welfare; staffing may not be adequate given the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association recommendation of 10 minutes of interaction per day; concerned with the amount that the female could be bred per year, that it may be too strenuous on the animals; unsatisfied with the fire evacuation plans.

The applicant appealed the MPC decision to the SDAB, with the hearing heard in council chambers and on Zoom.

“The reasons for the permit refusal cited by the MPC committee do not apply to our business,” said Karen Miller, applicant and owner of Baby Barks Kennel, said during the appeal hearing.

“In meeting the highest professional standards as outlined by the Canadian Veterinarian Medical Association and espoused by the Canadian Kennel Club, and verified by a licensed veterinarian in good standing, we meet and exceed the recommended animal welfare standards.”

In a letter submitted during the appeal hearing, Dr. Andy Mencarelli, with Didsbury Veterinary Services, said: “This letter is to verify that I have gone through the CVMA Code of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operations and I believe that Baby Barks is in full compliance with all of the required practices for each category. They also fully comply with all recommendations that I have made in regards to the health and care of all their dogs.”

In issuing its decision to uphold the appeal on Dec. 19, the SDAB cited several reasons, including the following (quoted from the decision):

• The board heavily weighed the information and evidence supplied by Dr. Mencarelli DVM and Dr. Stitt DVM in support of the appellant’s current operation and their satisfaction with the proposed development.

• The board determined that ongoing assurances that animal health and quality of life is maintained is of paramount importance and therefore ongoing inspections conducted by a veterinarian should be required and will provide as a safeguard to ensure that the proposed development continues to operate within the Code of Practice for Kennel Operators as developed by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.

• The board determined that the evidence supplied by Terry Smith, P. Eng., confirms the proposed development’s compliance with the Alberta Building Code which satisfies the board as it relates to Municipal Planning Commission Reason for refusal #4.

In allowing the appeal, the SDAB imposed several additional conditions on the permit, including that, “The applicant, landowner and/or operator shall be required to undertake an annual inspection, at their own expense, by a veterinarian certified by the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, to ensure that kennel operations continue to maintain compliance with the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Code of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operators as amended and to confirm the number of animals on the premises. 

“The applicant, landowner and/or operator shall be required to provide a copy of this annual inspection to Mountain View County by January 1.”

An additional added condition states: “Approval is granted for a maximum of sixty dogs, including adult dogs, puppies and any dogs deemed as personal pets, on the property at any one period in time.”

The SDAB is a statutory body made up of county councillors and appointed public members.

Dan Singleton

About the Author: Dan Singleton

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