Darin Wilson, county planning and zoning administrator addresses the planning and zoning commission at the conditional use permit hearing for Regina's Rescue on Feb. 14. (Craig Haley/Special to the Journal)
MOUND CITY – The Linn County Planning and Zoning board listened to the application of Regina’s Rescue, Parker, for a conditional use permit (CUP) for a rescue kennel on Tuesday, Feb. 14.
The kennel owned by Regina and Mike McClellen has been operating northeast of Parker for six years.
Darin Wilson, county planning and zoning administrator, said that the McClellens, who are applying for a grant to help fund their operation, applied for the CUP to make sure Regina’s Rescue was in compliance with county regulations. It did not previously have a county permit.
Wesley Moore, a volunteer at the kennel spoke for Regina about the care of the animals at the kennel. Moore explained that with the economic problems, people are strapped for money that they often cannot take care of their animals.
Moore said, "This is not an emotional thing, this is supposed to be something that has heart involved. Negligence has its consequences. Negligence of dog owner to spay or neuter their pets has consequences."
Right now, she has puppies having puppies, said Moore. Moore explained that in the last 90 days there have been 30 puppies born at the rescue because people did not spay their pets. He said that these were in foster care at different locations.
He became emotional as he spoke of the work Regina's Rescue does. He said people would bring their dogs to the rescue to surrender because they could not feed them and Regina would give them food so they could keep their pet.
Moore said that Regina's mission is to make sure that every animal is taken care of. That in itself is nearly impossible.
Regina told the planning commission that she did outreach around Linn County and even adjoining counties by going out in the rural areas and lakes and educating people about the care of the animals. She also gives them food, shots, and worming medicine. She also injects identification chips into the dogs for free.
Moore told the commission that law enforcement officers from other counties would bring animals, some dead, to the kennels so that Regina could scan for a chip so the owner could be notified. Moore questioned why law enforcement agencies do not have a chip scanner.
He explained that 29 kennels were in three vinyl dome buildings which had been donated and 36 kennels were outside with weather shield covering to keep out rain and snow.
Regina said that all of the dog runs were heated.
When questioned about whether she would take in 100 dogs as her state permit allowed, Regina said that she refused to take that many dogs because they could not receive the attention they needed.
Regina said that, at the time of the hearing, she had 54 dogs at the kennel, 24 dogs (puppies) in foster care with volunteers, 12 dogs that she cannot re-home because of the abuse they had suffered, and 12 cats.
Parker Police Chief and Codes Enforcement Officer Craig Haley spoke in support of the kennel saying that he had a good working relationship with Regina and she had assisted with animal issues at Parker. He pointed out that Regina did not take every animal that people took there.
Regina said that she would not take animals for which she did not have room.
Haley said that Regina is doing a lot of good in the county because small towns like Parker do not have a place to keep dogs they pick up. He said that he had been to her facility and, unlike a lot of other places he had been in the state, hers was much cleaner and the animals had very good care.
However, some neighbors and nearby landowners at the hearing expressed concerns about the noise.
Tom Kemper, a neighbor to the east, said that the dogs that were at the kennel now were very noisy. He said that he had friends over to watch the football game in his garage and they were not able to hear the game because of the dogs barking.
Kemper did say that the only problem from the kennel was noise, and he no longer slept with his windows open at night. But he said that he was not against the kennel unless it was expanding. He said he hoped that something could be done to tone down the noise.
Lester Town, who owns property across the road from the kennel, said he had a rental house south of the kennel and he was concerned about the noise bothering his tenants even though the renter had dogs as well. Town said he was against kennels being right along the road.
Another adjacent landowner, Eric Schmitt, complained about the noise and sanitation. He said that his family comes down frequently to hunt and fish. He told the commission that, with the current noise level, they would never be able to build there.
When asked by commission members if the kennels was in operation when the land was purchased, he said that he and his father had purchased the land last fall. They had not been aware of the kennel and his father purchased the land sight unseen.
Schmitt had sent a letter to the planning board with information from the Kansas Department of Agriculture saying that Regina’s license was pending and it might be two more months before it was issued.
Regina said that they were licensed and had annual surprise inspections. She said that since there were only three inspectors for the state, it often took a long period of time to get the final papers.
When asked about the method used for getting rid of animal waste, Mike McClellen, co-owner, said that because there is bedding in the pens, it is put in a large compost pile and burned.
Dennis Barrett, a neighbor living one mile north said he had no issues with the kennels but was concerned about the noise and how the waste was disposed of. He was concerned if it could contaminate the ground water.
Barrett also said that while he did not have a problem with what Regina was doing, he was concerned that this decision might set precedent for kennel sites in the future.
The planning board tabled their decision on whether to approve a conditional use permit (CUP) until they have more information about the recent state inspection, possible ways to control noise levels, a site plan and what the state requires for sanitation.