After listening to community concerns on the strength of its proposed dog kennel legislation, the Gardiner Town Board decided June 8 to extend its 6-month application moratorium to a full year.
The moratorium on dog kennel applications was implemented in February so that the board could craft a newer, stronger law on the safety of pet retail. It was inspired by a controversial commercial 20- to 30-dog kennel proposal for Denniston Road that appeared before the Gardiner Planning Board in October. The applicant swiftly withdrew its special permit request just a few days later following board members' distrust that the kennel would be healthy and fair for the animals or the property’s surrounding neighbors.
The overwhelming sentiment of the Tuesday evening public hearing was to eliminate commercial kennels in their entirety.
“Dog breeding is a controversial and unsavory area of animal husbandry where dogs are subjected to considerable abuse and I’m not sure Gardiner even wants to get involved in actual breeding facilities,” said Janet Kern, a citizen and “animal lover.” She raised concerns that the spatial dimensions of the cages outlined in the proposed law were “totally inadequate,” and she suggested including protocols for regular inspections by the town’s Dog Control Officer.
Planning Board member Carol Richman echoed support for kennel elimination. But even if not possible, she stated that some of the changes in the new law would be worse for the animals, particularly that only one dog is allowed in the dog runs at a time and would not be permitted to socialize. Richamn suggested the board members picture themselves as the animal before implementing the perimeters they were establishing for kennels.
Another speaker said elimination would provide the perfect opportunity for Gardiner to “pave the way” for animal rights.
“I think this law just opens up the chance for puppy mills,” said Gardiner resident Simone, stating that the law needs a lot of work to enforce healthy environments for the pets.
Planning Board member Josh Verleun, who sparked the legislation restructuring, said there’s a danger in banning commercial kennels because it would “demonize” existing reputable breeders who could come back to challenge the town. Additionally, he said it would push the dishonest breeders underground rather than expunge them, and would terminate Gardiner’s metrics for regulating kennels.
Verluen added that the Denniston Road applicant may have relocated to Newburgh, but still owns the Gardiner property and could “return at any point.”
Councilman Franco Carucci proposed a referendum where all community members could vote on whether kennels should be admitted to Gardiner. Pursuing that wrath, he said, could eliminate the “wrath” of the reputable breeders or organizations.
Ultimately, Councilman David Dukler, who largely wrote the draft law, recommended that he and his colleagues go back to the drawing board because he felt his own legislation needed major amendments. He said he couldn’t comment on whether banning kennels would be the way to go. The panel unanimously agreed.
The Town Board will have to introduce a local law and refer it to Ulster County Planning, as well as the Gardiner Planning Board, for approval before the moratorium can be extended beyond its original August due date.