Plan­ners re­ject dog res­cue oper­a­tion

Westside Eagle-Observer - - NEWS - TOM SISSOM tsis­som@nwadg.com

BEN­TONVILLE — Cit­ing the need to pro­tect res­i­den­tial sub­di­vi­sions, Ben­ton County plan­ners on April 4 de­nied a re­quest for the con­tin­ued oper­a­tion of an an­i­mal res­cue ken­nel near Gravette which was op­er­ated for three years with­out go­ing through the plan­ning process.

The Plan­ning Board voted unan­i­mously to re­ject the site plan sub­mit­ted by the Heav­enly Paws Res­cue ken­nel op­er­a­tors. More than a dozen neigh­bors spoke to the board about the noise and smell from the site and asked it not be al­lowed to con­tinue.

Paige Todd, one neigh­bor, said she’s un­able to use the deck on her home be­cause of the ken­nel.

“The al­most con­stant bark­ing and yap­ping from al­most 50 dogs makes con­ver­sa­tion im­pos­si­ble,” Todd said. “The stench and the noise are un­bear­able. It is an eye­sore.”

Karen Church­well, an­other neigh­bor, said she’s also con­cerned about safety. Church­well said she has young grand­chil­dren who like to play out­side. If a dog should be run­ning at large at such a time “it could be dis­as­trous,” she said.

“This is not the ap­pro­pri­ate lo­ca­tion for this fa­cil­ity.”

Cathy Scrog­gin, the prop­erty owner, and Ch­eryl Lu­cius, who works with the res­cue oper­a­tion, both de­fended the fa­cil­ity and their work. They said the claims of con­tin­u­ous bark­ing were over­stated and said they work to prop­erly treat all the dogs they take in.

“We do not throw dogs out, that’s dis­gust­ing,” Lu­cius said, re­spond­ing to one neigh­bor who said dead dogs had been put into trash bags. Lu­cius said dogs taken in that are too ill or ne­glected to sur­vive are cre­mated.

Tilly Hol­loway said she works at an an­i­mal clinic in Bella Vista where the Heav­enly Paws dogs are treated. She said she has adopted three dogs from the oper­a­tion her­self.

“This is the most eth­i­cal res­cue oper­a­tion I have worked with,” Hol­loway said.

Mike Sav­age, who iden­ti­fied him­self as the an­i­mal control of­fi­cer for Gravette, also spoke on be­half of the oper­a­tion.

“These peo­ple do great work for the com­mu­nity,” Sav­age said. “Not just in Gravette but all over north­west Arkansas.”

Board mem­ber Ash­ley Tucker said Ben­ton County has a his­tory of try­ing to pro­tect res­i­den­tial sub­di­vi­sions. He pointed to in­stances where the board has re­jected re­quests to op­er­ate wrecker ser­vices, car lots and cab­i­net shops in sub­di­vi­sions.

“Sub­di­vi­sions are kind of sacro­sanct,” Tucker said. “We have tried to pro­tect them. If we ap­prove this, it could open a prece­dent to treat sub­di­vi­sions dif­fer­ently than we have.”

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion sub­mit­ted to the county, the ken­nel is on 4.5-acres at 10680 Shady Lane Cir­cle owned by Earl and Cathy Scrog­gin. The res­cue fa­cil­ity in­cludes a 2,800-square-foot home with ca­nine runs to the north and west of the house. A sec­ond struc­ture iden­ti­fied as the main ken­nel is shown as a 30-by-50-foot pole shed. An­other 1,500-square­foot build­ing also has out­door run ar­eas around it. A 40-by-40-foot barn is iden­ti­fied as an area for food stor­age. The site is sur­rounded on all sides by sin­gle-fam­ily res­i­dences.

The busi­ness came to the at­ten­tion of the county through a com­plaint about bark­ing dogs.

Scrog­gin said, after the hear­ing, she didn’t know what she’ll do next.

“We have to find res­cues that will take them,” she said of the 40 dogs now at the ken­nel. “This was a witch hunt. There are goats and chick­ens out there. In four years, this is the first com­plaint.”

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