A Wellesley Township farm couple’s plan to pare down a livestock operation in favour of a dog kennel got a mixed reception from councillors this week.
In a split decision Tuesday night, council approved an application from David and Minerva Bowman of 6171 Buehler Line to convert the second floor of their barn into a kennel.
The Bowmans currently run a cow and pig operation at their farm. Due to medical issues, the pigs must be removed. With that, the couple would like to start breeding dogs. They anticipate starting with 10 to 15 dogs, raising golden retrievers and poodles.
After a spate of kennel applications in recent years, the township has been more cautious with such operations. Though the application met all of the requirements under Wellesley’s bylaws, there were some reservations, particularly over the handling of dogs once the dogs passed beyond breeding age.
Coun. Shelley Wagner questioned Bowman about his experience breeding dogs, wanting to know what he intends for the adult dogs when they are done breeding.
Bowman’s plan to use an intermediary to find new homes for the dogs did not sit well with her.
Wagner asked Todd Loveday, the township’s bylaw enforcement/animal control officer, whether that was suitable under existing bylaws.
Loveday said there was nothing set out in regards to retiring animals, but noted he does let prospective kennel owners know they will be asked about that plan. In cases where the kennel operators don’t have internet access, for instance, it’s not unusual for third-party channels to be involved in finding new homes for the dogs.
“It’s not set out directly in the township bylaw that they have to have a succession plan. When I go and I talk to everybody that is interested in a kennel, I talk to them about having a succession plan and tell them that they will be asked at the meeting if they have a plan for that. I also understand that for some of the kennel breeders, they don’t have the internet [or] the advertising capabilities in regards to getting their dogs rehomed once they are retired. And I believe that’s why they’re using some outside assistance in getting the dogs rehomed,” he said.
In response to a question from Coun. Peter van der Maas, Bowman said he expects the adult dogs to have a maximum of two litters per year, with plans to retire the breeding dogs after eight years.
The application, approved in a 3-2 split vote, notes the barn has a solid concrete floor between the first and second levels, and in-floor heating will be installed for the dogs alongside an automatic water system. An existing ventilation system will provide improved air quality for the animals.