Planners reject dog rescue operation
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.”