Unlicensed dog kennel under careful scrutiny by community, authorities

An unlicensed kennel on Lennox and Addington County Road 9 has some members of the community concerned for the welfare of dogs they allege are living in a “puppy mill.”

A spokesperson for the group of concerned dog lovers, who asked that they remain anonymous for fear of reprisal by the owners of the kennel, contacted Kingstonist on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, to raise their concerns publicly.

Neighbours of the property noticed the barking and howling of several dogs in early January 2022, noted the spokesperson. “With the amount of barking and carrying on the dogs made, it wasn’t difficult [to see that there were dogs there]. Also, neighbours had told us that there were not only one or two dogs, but at least 10 to 15 dog runs or kennels.”

Out for a walk on Jan. 7, 2022, two of the group said, “There were 20 dogs, if not more, at that time on the property. Four Ontario Animal Welfare Officers’ vans were on site at this time, and two OPP cruisers.” They believed at the time that the dogs were being removed. A spokesperson for the Lennox and Addington detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) confirmed the police presence at the site.

Dogs, originally mistaken for pit bulls, in their runs at the site that currently has no running water. Submitted photos.

The walkers saw two dogs in a parked truck in front of the property, and at that short distance, they believed the dogs were pit bulls, a breed that is banned in Ontario since a 2005 amendment to the Dog Owners’ Liability Act (DOLA). 

However, there was another cacophony of dog noises within a week, and the neighbours reported to the town of Greater Napanee that there were again dogs on the property, as well as the sounds of construction, “someone running a chainsaw and possibly a backhoe.”

In an email on Saturday, Jan. 15, they asked Town Staff and the Councillor for Ward 2, Terry Richardson, “Has a permit been given for a kennel to operate on the property? And if not, isn’t there only a maximum of three dogs allowed on the property with a caregiver, heated shelter and running water — none, of which can be supplied without hydro and a well?”

Michael Nobes, General Manager of Growth and Expansion at the Town of Greater Napanee responded in an email three days later. “We have been attending the site and following up with the property owner regarding the issues around the operation. The owner undertook construction without a permit and this is being investigated and enforced as necessary to gain compliance with the Building Code.”

“Staff are working with the owner to bring the operations into compliance with applicable municipal by-laws,” Nobes continued. “The owner is undertaking to have the necessary plans drafted to illustrate the adequate functioning of the site in order to allow for proper licensing from the municipality.”

The complainant group’s spokesperson reflected, “I don’t know how that will work when there is no hydro or water on the property. Also, it would seem a difficult process when there is a strike against the landowner for trying to run a kennel operation under the radar.”

Another witness, who made a visit to the Sandhill Cemetery (also known as McCabe’s Cemetery) next door to the property, confirmed in a video recording on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022 that there were indeed numerous dejected-sounding large dogs still at the site. On Monday, Jan. 24, this witness made a call to the OPP to investigate their involvement in the situation and report what she had heard. She then contacted Animal Welfare inquiring about the situation and to report her findings.

Video from the Sandhill Cemetery confirms the presence of a number of dogs at the site on January 23, 2022. Witness video.

A summary of the situation was provided in writing to the group by Michael Nobes of the Town of Greater Napanee on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

“To my knowledge, the Animal Welfare inspector has seen considerable improvement in the welfare of the dogs on the property and they are beginning to scale back their enforcement measures, as the owner has been cooperating with their orders,” Nobes wrote. “The OPP were on the scene initially when this issue arose and did not seize the dogs. The Town has confirmed that the owner was able to provide sufficient evidence of the breed of the dogs and the animals are not of a restricted breed.”

“Ultimately,” Nobes continued, “with several factors at play, the Town is attempting to work as co-operatively as possible with the property owner to legitimize the operation, however further steps may be taken by the Town if continued co-operation is not received in return.”

He also confirmed, “We did receive proof that they were not a pit bull breed at all.”

However, things took a dramatic turn late that afternoon when Animal Welfare Services again visited the site and began actively removing the dogs. At that time, the group became aware that there had possibly been people injured at the scene of the removal.

After multiple attempts to confirm the situation with Provincial Animal Welfare, a response was received on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, from Brent Ross, a Spokesperson for the Ministry of the Solicitor General.

“On January 25th, Animal Welfare Services removed 11 dogs from a location near Kingston as the owner had not complied with a number of compliance orders related to the standards of care under the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act. The owner has now complied with the orders and the animals have been returned,” Ross confirmed.

As to a rumour that individuals had been bitten during the removal, Ross said, “The ministry cannot speak to the health conditions of individuals for privacy reasons.”

The province has established a toll-free number, 1-833-9-ANIMAL (264625), for people to report concerns about animal distress or abuse. This call centre is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

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