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Wellesley lifts moratorium on kennel licenses, revises bylaw

A 16-month moratorium imposed on new dog kennel licenses in Wellesley Township was lifted Tuesday night, as council also look to revise its kennel bylaw.

The temporary ban was implemented in July 2018 after several residents came forward and shared their concern about a growing number of kennels throughout the township. They claimed that Wellesley needed stronger safeguards in place to ensure animal welfare.

Wellesley councillors agreed to hit the pause button on approving any further kennel licensing while staff sought out advice from Dr. Paul Eckford of the Canadian Kennel Club. The updated bylaw following his recommendations was presented to council during an October 22 meeting, but a decision was deferred to allow additional time to review the documents.

The majority of councillors were on board for the latest updates, with the vocal exception of Ward 1 Coun. Shelley Wagner.

 “I like the changes that we’ve made, but I still don’t think we’ve addressed this issue with the number of kennels in our township,” said Wagner.

The township currently has 21 kennels, including non-breeding operations, that are inspected annually. All have met the standards placed on them by the previous bylaw.

“Doctor Eckford had mentioned when he was here that we don’t have a lot of kennels in comparison…. Wilmot and Woolwich have more kennels than we do,” responded municipal clerk Grace Kosch. “So as far as having the amount of kennels … in his opinion, we don’t have too many … we are on the low end.”

Woolwich and Wilmot townships have a higher population and thus would require higher number of kennels, countered Wagner.

“Typically, it’s a supply-and-demand type of situation,” said chief administrative officer Rik Louwagie. “If you were to compare it to say, a livestock operation, you don’t regulate the number of livestock operations we have. … If there’s a demand for beef, that’s how much beef is produced.”

Despite some further back-and-forth, the revised bylaw was ultimately approved. Dogs, both male and female, cannot be used for breeding until after their first birthday, and they must be retired from breeding at eight-years-old.

Once a female dog turns six, the kennel owner is required to provide the animal control officer with a written notification from a qualified veterinarian that the dog is in good health and that continued breeding would not compromise the dog’s health.

Wellesley Township is requiring working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and fire extinguishers in all kennel facilities.

Annual veterinarian checkups continue to be a practice. Additional inspections can be carried out if “deemed necessary.” Breeders must provide full medical disclosure to prospective buyers or adopters of retired breeding dogs.

All records of sale for puppies and breeding dogs must be available at any time during an inspection. Kennel operators are no longer required to inform the township or animal control officer within 48 hours about the new location and new owner of a dog after its sale or adoption.

The township received six inquiries about kennel licenses during the 16-month ban. Those parties were told that Wellesley was not accepting applications at the time.

Under the new rules, application fees for a kennel license cost $500, an application to expand costs $300, and a conditional license has a fee of $100.

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