Friday, June 15, 2007
Pampered Paws - Keeping their paws firmly over their eyes!
Wendy Gillspie knows Janet Chernin - and Janet has tried to tell Wendy that her in home doggy day care was in jeopardy - just like every other in home doggy day care in the whole of the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Every in home doggy day care of the Halifax Regional Municipality is currently illegal because of the current land use bylaws - it's not just Janet Chernin's - so it should come as no surprise that as the City finds out about them - they are being given a cease and desist order.
That is why we as dog owners and the owners of these businesses have GOT to band together to say that these businesses are VITAL to our community - and we need them as much as human parents need in home day cares for their children.
Doggy day care wants to sit, stayBut city orders Pampered Paws Inn to shut down or face legal action
By AMY PUGSLEY FRASER City Hall Reporter
A Hammonds Plains doggy day-care owner is howling over the city’s plans to shut her down over a zoning issue.
Last Friday, Wendy Gillespie read a registered letter that informed her she had a few weeks to pack up the Pampered Paws Inn or face "immediate legal action."
"I was shocked," she said in an interview Thursday, amid a chorus of faint barks and woofs.
"I still can’t believe that they are doing this."
A few years ago, she opened up a bed and breakfast for travellers and their pets because experience has taught her that people don’t like to be separated from their four-legged friends.
"I remember I left my dog at a kennel once and he had laryngitis (from barking) when I picked him up, he was so stressed," said Ms. Gillespie, who now has three dogs and a cat.
In addition to letting pets and owners sleep over, she also offers travellers the option of leaving their animals behind for the day when they do local touring.
"The dogs stay in the back and get some exercise or sleep on the big pillows and cushions and watch TV."
Over time, she started accepting dogs for daytime care while their owners went to work.
However, while the area zoning permits the operation of a B&B for people and pets, a daytime doggy day care is a no-no.
She and her husband were going to apply for the appropriate zoning change, she said, but thought they’d wait to see how the business developed.
Now, it’s so busy that more than a dozen local kids drop by during the week to volunteer as playtime pals for the dogs.
"Basically, it just grew more than we expected. People don’t want to kennel their dogs during the day when they are at work. It’s too stressful to have them in cement rooms with cages."
And while Ms. Gillespie has "no idea" what she’s going to do next, she only has until mid-July to come up with a plan.
Time is not on her side.
The area councillor says the required zoning change is time-consuming and tricky to get.
That’s because the commercial classification would stick even after her business closes and the property changes hands, Coun. Gary Meade (Hammonds Plains-St. Margarets) said Thursday.
"You could have a motel, a service station, building supply stores, recycling depot.
"So that’s a problem," he said, noting it’s not customary to allow such a change from a mixed-use designation.
And even if the zoning was altered to allow a dog day care, Ms. Gillespie’s 23,000-square-foot property is not large enough, he said.
"You need a minimum 30,000 square feet for a C-4 (commercial property)," he said, adding that she could perhaps look into acquiring some land from one of her neighbours. The councillor said that while the city’s bylaw enforcement services is entirely complaint-driven, no one has ever called him to complain about Pampered Paws.
He plans to work with city staff to work out an extension to Ms. Gillespie’s closing deadline.
A dog owner who boards his Shih Tzu, Riley, at Pampered Paws Inn one day a week wonders why it’s being singled out when the area is full of commercial businesses.
"She’s right beside an RV park and up the street from a golf course and a heavy equipment operator," Hal Armstrong said in an interview Thursday.
The business is beneficial to the community, he says.
"Her building is beautiful, it’s nicer than the home I live in, for heaven’s sake."
He and his wife are not sure what they would do if the inn closed.
"It’s kind of like a little resort; they sleep on pillows, it’s air-conditioned, they have webcams," he said.
"It’s Riley’s home away from home. He just loves it there."