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August 22, 2016

Controversial kennel permit application withdrawn

Photos/Lawrence Emerson
Nancy Lagasse questions the applicants’ understanding of therapy dog training and certification.
“We are not by any means a puppy mill,” Corrie Warren tells the Fauquier County Board of Zoning Appeals. “We know each and every one of our dogs.”
I am shocked that anyone would think it’s OK to breed 65 females and have up to 48 litters a year.
— Carla Nammack
Public Hearing
• Topic: Special use permit for dog kennel at Ecoganic Farm, along Old Auburn Road about three miles east of Warrenton.

• Agency: Fauquier County Board of Zoning Appeals.

• Applicants: Emmanuel and Corrie Warren.

• Details: Approval sought for 65 adult dogs, up to 48 litters a year, boarding and training on 63 acres, zoning rural agricultural.

• When: Thursday, Aug. 4.

• Speakers: 27 opposed, 2 supportive.

• Length: 90 minutes.

• Where: Warren Green Building, Warrenton.

• Next: BZA will visit site and vote Thursday, Sept. 1.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
UPDATE: The owners of Ecoganic Farm east of Warrenton have withdrawn their special use permit application for a large dog-breeding kennel.

Emmanuel and Corrie Warren’s attorney informed Fauquier government staff members of their decision Monday morning, county Planner Ben Holt said.

The Warrens have hired James P. Downey, a Warrenton lawyer, to represent them, Mr. Holt said.

Mr. Downey told county staff members that, in preparation for a new application, his clients will address the concerns expressed about their proposal to keep up to 65 adult dogs and to have as many as 48 liters a year at their farm along Old Auburn Road, about three miles from Warrenton.

The application withdrawal takes the issue off the Fauquier County Board of Zoning Appeals agenda for Thursday, Sept. 1. It also cancels the BZA’s planned site visit to the kennel that morning.

Coverage of the BZA hearing on Aug. 4 follows:

Despite overwhelming opposition, a couple will continue their effort to win approval of a large-scale dog breeding kennel east of Warrenton.

Fauquier’s board of zoning appeals last Thursday postponed its vote after 27 public hearing speakers opposed Emmanuel and Corrie Warren’s special use permit application.

The Warrens seek approval for as many as 48 litters a year at their 63-acre Ecoganic Farm along Old Auburn Road. The application seeks approval to keep 65 adult dogs and to run a training operation for “therapy and service dogs.”

Mrs. Warren described the proposed operation as an “outside of the box” family business that would allow the couple to continue adopting and educating children from Ethiopia and other Third World nations.

“We are not by any means a puppy mill,” she told the BZA. “We know each and every one of our dogs.”

> County staff report at bottom of story

Mrs. Warren she and her husband, “called to mission work,” have adopted children as old as 13 and as young as 22 weeks. Three of their children have entered college, “with more on the way.”

She added: “Our family has benefitted incredibly from therapy dogs . . . . Raising puppies is a joyful venture that all of our family has participated in . . . making a difference in somebody’s life.”

But, their kennel has operated without zoning approval or a business license. And, although the family has no certifications, it plans to offer training for service and therapy dogs as part of the proposed expansion.

“We know basic training,” Mrs. Warren said. “But, what we’re proposing, we’re not doing now.”

The couple started breeding dogs in 1998, and in recent years ramped up its sales of Bernese Mountain dogs, old English sheepdogs, Labradoodles and Doodles, according to Mrs. Warren.

“We have a waiting list of more than 100 people, all of which have placed deposits,” she said.

Representatives of humane organizations and service dog owners dominated the 90-minute public hearing. They came from as far away as Bedford and Spotsylvania. Three testified from wheelchairs, service dogs at their sides in the cramped Warren Green Building meeting room.

“I am shocked that anyone would think it’s OK to breed 65 females and have up to 48 litters a year,” said Carla Nammack, owner of Country Club Kennels near Catlett and founder of The Chance Foundation that rescues unwanted and endangered dogs.

Ms. Nammack criticized the facilities at Ecoganic Farm and questioned the Warrens’ ability to properly care for so many dogs.

“There is no way we can support anyone who is breeding dogs and adopting them out at eight weeks to go to disabled people,” said Amissville resident Nancy Legasse, confined to a wheelchair by multiple sclerosis.

Only 40 percent of dogs who enter the Canine Companions for Independence program graduate and “actually make it to service dogs,” Ms. Legasse added.

“The dogs can be sold to anybody,” said Stephanie Tom, who drove 3-1/2 hours from Bedford to testify. “In my opinion, this application is for a high-volume breeder.”

A Forever Home Rescue Foundation representative Patti Stinson criticized the Warrens’ use of “bark softening” surgery to reduce noise at the kennel.

“They cut the dog’s vocal cords,” Ms. Stinson said. “In many parts of the country, it’s illegal. Many vets will not do it . . . .

“Sixty-five adult dogs can be akin to 65 teenagers. No two people can do it. Add the puppies . . . . These dogs are not born as therapy dogs. They cannot guarantee these dogs are going to be sold as therapy dogs.”

Andy Dart and other neighboring property owners said noise from the kennel has diminished their quality of life. They insisted the commercial operation has no place in a rural setting.

Land-use planning consultant Brandie Schaeffer gave the BZA a petition with the signatures of 73 people who live within a mile of the kennel and oppose the zoning permit.

Ms. Schaeffer and others questioned the county’s ability to enforce proposed conditions on the kennel, should it win zoning approval.

“By continuing to approve these operations, you burden not only my clients but the organizations that deal with the outfall,” she said.

Middleburg Humane Foundation staff member Melanie Burch noted that the operation already violates county ordinances.

“I don’t think we should give somebody a pass every time they say, ‘Opps, we forgot to do something’,” Ms. Burch said.

Two people spoke in support of the Warrens, calling them an honest, hardworking couple.

A retired policeman, Mr. Warren initially expressed reluctance to allow the BZA to visit the kennel before making its decision. Expressing concerns about their children, he and his wife said their zoning application has generated disturbing comments from opponents well beyond Fauquier.

“If they don’t want to want us to postpone and visit the site, I’m prepared to move for denial,” BZA member Bill Chipman said.

Mr. Chipman added, “What I’ve heard from neighbors and land-use planners” provided the foundation to vote against the application.

But, the Warrens agreed to have the five-member BZA visit their farm, in what would constitute a public meeting and thus be open to anyone.

Mr. Warren said he would hire security guards for the visit.

The zoning board plans to conduct the site visit soon and to make a decision Thursday, Sept. 1. If denied a permit, the Warrens could appeal to the circuit court.

StaffReport EcoganicFarmKennel 8-4-16 by Fauquier Now on Scribd

Member comments
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Jim Griffin · August 15, 2016 at 11:02 am
If we as a community abhor "puppy mills" then we should make them illegal, and be consistent: Stop stores from selling them, stop people from raising them, make it illegal to own a puppy from a mill, and so forth.
Lorieckl · August 12, 2016 at 11:30 pm
Email all the board members of the zoning commitee and attend the meetings. Rockford, Il just denied a zoning permit for a puppy mill last night. Rumor has it the kids might apply for one now, so it's not over.
Nobody can be an expert on so many different breeds. Keep up the good fight!
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