The growing number of kennels in the township and mounting opposition gave Wellesley councillors pause for thought Tuesday night, giving rise to a discussion about dog breeding in general.
Debate was sparked by a kennel application from Linwood residents Kenneth and Linda Brubacher. The bid was opposed by a delegation of concerned citizens who implored councillors to reject the application and apply a moratorium on all future kennel businesses. The residents claimed that the township needed stronger and more thorough safeguards to ensure the animals’ welfare, at breeding operations in particular.
“At present, a petition has been circulating throughout the township and businesses, including Wellesley veterinarians who support this initiative,” said delegate Cheryl McCabe, addressing councillors. “We are ensuring that old and new residents are aware of what is happening in their town, and most are shocked and prepared to share their concerns.”
Ultimately, council approved the kennel license, which will be for Australian shepherds and golden retrievers, finding no fault with the dog breeder’s application. Township chief administrative officer Rik Louwagie suggested that councillors evaluate the breeder’s request for a kennel license according to the bylaws as they currently are.
Councillors did agree to imposing a temporary moratorium on dog kennels until township staff can explore what, if any steps could be taken to address the delegations’ concerns – a process that may take staff a few months to complete. However, the effect of the moratorium is somewhat diminished as council is adjourning for their summer break until the end of August – it will be unable to grant any more licenses in the meantime.
McCabe said that there was overabundance of puppies and dogs in the region, and there is currently a sufficient number of kennels to meet demand.
“There are enough kennels in our township right now to satisfy – to over-satisfy – a need, when there are an excess of dogs looking for homes,” she said. McCabe pointed to the banning of selling dogs and cats at pet stores in several municipalities in Ontario, suggesting the supply was above the demand.
Cambridge adopted a ban on all for-profit stores selling pets in 2016, Toronto a ban on selling dogs and cats in 2011, Ottawa also in 2016.
Coun. Herb Neher, however, said that many breeding kennels were specialized, producing particular purebred species. “But many of these kennels are specialized, right?” he asked.
“Are they?” responded McCabe. “Some of the current kennel owners are just puppy makers. They’re not breeders in the sense of breeding you a non-allergic dog, or a show dog. They’re breeding.”
Despite concerns about the animals’ welfare, there has not been any recorded instances of animal abuse in Wellesley Township, where kennels are inspected on a yearly basis.
“Are you are aware of any kennels within our township that are treating the dogs inhumanely in any way?” asked Mayor Joe Nowak.
“I don’t go to the kennels, so, no, I do not,” said McCabe.
Answering questions on behalf of the applicants was Kenneth Brubacher’s father, who said Kenneth was a lover of animals.
The senior Brubacher, also a dog breeder, said the operation was topnotch.
“We’ve got floor heating in, we’ve got different temperatures on different sets of the floors so the dogs can pick a cooler floor, warmer floor. It’s insulated better than the house we live in,” he said. The floors, he noted, are covered in shavings. They will be building a new building for the kennel, with Brubacher noting that it would be a “heavy investment” for them.
Puppies are weaned after six weeks, said Brubacher, while dogs are kept breeding for about six years. “We like to re-home the adults in about six years. We don’t breed them every heat. No, we’re not here to get as many pups out of each female as we can. We have never done that.”
Wellesley has approximately 22 kennels in the township, though the number includes non-breeding kennels as well. Woolwich, by contrast, only has 11 licensed operations.
“Nobody is blaming the kennels,” stressed McCabe. “We’re saying we need to stop right now where we are – there are plenty of kennels in the township, and let’s get a handle on the puppies that are being born now. There’s not a need for more puppies.”