Dog Kennel Task Force
John McHugh, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, has announced the creation of a Dog Kennel Task Force to examine issues concerning the operation of dog kennels. Residents have indicated that increasing traffic on the local roads puts a strain on these roads and noise complaints have increased. The Task Force will examine the issues raised and provide recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on how to effectively deal with the issues.
Task Force guidelines:
1. There will be interaction between the dog kennel owners and the home owners to promote a dialog with the goal of understanding the consequences of breeding dogs. What impact does this operation have on the surrounding neighborhoods and can it be mitigated?
2. Dogs barking is a problem. Can it be alleviated to reduce the noise complaints?
3. Land is getting scarce and expensive, so a minimum lot size was set for the operation of the dog kennel operation, yet the Township is getting complaints that the minimum lot requirement of 10 acres is not sufficient.
4. There will be tours of at least two operating kennels and two areas where noise complaints have been reported.
5. Recommendations will be made in writing to the Honey Brook Township Board of Supervisors and presented at the December 13, 2017 meeting. The Board will announce what action will be taken on the Township website and letters will be sent to all participants.
Meetings were held on September 7 and 20, October 9 and 18, November 6, and December 6, 2017.
A Special Board meeting was held on April 5, 2018 at 6:00 pm. John Theilacker of the Brandywine Conservancy, who has worked with the Planning Commission over the past two years to prepare this draft ordinance, made a presentation that includes a summary of what’s proposed to be changed both in the regulations and on the zoning map, and what this means to property owners. Kennel regulations are a part of the Zoning Ordinance update.
Kennel Licensing and Permitting
Kennels are licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Please refer to the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement page and the Kennel Licensing program page for more information on the licensing process. Click here to search listings of kennels and to view inspection reports.
Kennels are permitted by Conditional Use in the A – Agriculture and RC – Resource Conservation districts in Honey Brook Township. This means that they must have a Conditional Use hearing before the Board of Supervisors, who will render a decision as to whether or not the conditional use will be permitted. The section of the Zoning ordinance that concerns Kennels is Section 27-1604.M.
Summary of September 7, 2017 Meeting
We conducted the first meeting of the Dog Kennel Task Force on Thursday, September 7, 2017 and the turnout was amazing. It was standing room only when we ran out of chairs in the meeting hall. I want to express my appreciation to all the Honey Brook Township residents who showed their strong interest in the welfare of dogs in our community. The comments we heard reflected the sincerity and desire to resolve issues concerning the raising of dogs in the Honey Brook Township. The sentiment of the residents was summarized in the letter shown below.
Lew Wertley, former member of the Honey Brook Board of Supervisors, assisted in conducting the meeting and in assembling a Task Force committee. Some of the items that were gathered for the Task Force to consider:
- Land use issues such as the overall size of the property utilized for dog kennels will be discussed as well as the set back of the kennels which is set at 300 feet. How was this determined and is it an adequate distance?
- Impact on the community – Has the increase of volume of traffic on local roads increased due to the number of sales conducted at the dog kennels? How do we control the noise from a kennels?
- Does the State, County, and Township provide for adequate control over kennels through regulations and ordinances and is there proper oversight and enforcement?
The next step for the Task Force is to form a committee. Several people have offered to help and we welcome residents who were unable to attend the Thursday meeting to participate. An announcement will be posted on the Honey Brook Township website concerning when the Task Force will meet. Any changes to what was proposed and already posted on the website will be followed up with telephone calls to those residents who signed up to participate on the Task Force. Several groups involved with dog breading have approached us and offered to share their best practices.
I would like to nominate Mike France as the Honorary Chairperson for the Task Force. He is a former Chairperson for the Planning Committee and has helped to overcome the problems the Township faced in the past over poorly run kennels. Although he may not be available to attend the Task Force meetings, he can be reached by phone or email. I believe his knowledge, guided by a strong concern for the dogs, would assist the Task Force effort.
I would like to have Lew Wertley lead the effort with support from others who are able to dedicate time over the next 2 ½ months. Our goal is to arrive at a working solution for the dog kennels to operate within Honey Brook Township with the support of the community.
On behalf of the Honey Brook Township Board of Supervisors,
John H. McHugh
A heartfelt letter presented at the September 7 Task Force meeting (shared with the writer’s permission):
“As a resident of Honey Brook Township. I am only here to express my concerns on behalf of the community and the dog industry.
I personally do not have a large interest in this industry although I am concerned. My roots run deep in the Township. My parents, grandparents, great grandparents all the way back to the mid 1800’s, this is where they toiled and sweated for freedom and I trust to say that is still the desire that each and every one of us have to this day. Agriculture runs deep in our blood, but to live off the land like our forefathers did is not possible for the biggest percentage of us, but moving off would be like being transferred to a reservation. So, in order to stay here we are constantly looking for alternatives. I am almost certain that 99% of the individuals are not only in it for the money but also for the love and respect for the dog. I would not try to disrespect you and suggest there are no bad actors but to suggest that there are no good actors is also not true. We do not ask of suggest that you compromise your distaste and concern for bad actors in the dog breeding communities. However, the rumors that are being spread that ALL dog breeders do not care about their dogs is untrue.
Currently, the dog breeders are being targeted, but I trust to say if we fold from this pressure our other animals will become the next target and ultimately our livelihood. If and when we no longer can make a living and this community is forced to move on, I challenge you to open your eyes and visualize this wide-open landscape and rolling beauty start sprouting industrial/commercial and residential complexes. Is this what you want?
I have seen with my own eyes when a potential puppy buyer comes to make a purchase they are simply awestruck by the beauty of the countryside and the health of the animals. These puppies going to a city will at times have less freedom at their home than what they had where they were born and raised till 8 weeks of age.
We are not looking for handouts or any special favors but rather to be able to find a common ground and still be compliant to the Township rules. In ending my part, I just want to thank the Township officials and those invited for everything that you do.
Thanks again, also a big thank you to Neil Kilgore for coming out tonight and speaking on our behalf.”
Summary of September 20, 2017 Meeting
On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, a second meeting was held at the Honey Brook Township Admin Building at 500 Suplee Road. John McHugh set the objectives for the evening and Lew Wertley moderated the meeting. A review of the Honey Brook Township Ordinance was conducted.
Several comments were given on the inconsistencies of the currently adopted ordinance. A guide that explains the regulations and processes was called out as needed. Discussion on containing noise and volume of traffic was also heard.
For the next meeting the discussion will be conducted on the State Dog Law and other areas of regulation concerning dog breeding and kennel ownership. Lew Wertley offered to circulate copies of the documents provided the Township can supply the copies prior to the next meeting.
It was pointed out that several residents did not know about the September 20, 2017 meeting and questioned how the Township can get the word out to the residents.
The dog kennel owners offered the opportunity for residents to stop by their kennels to observe the conditions of their facilities. Residents can call the Township building to make arrangements for these visits.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Lew Wertley took the names of the residents who expressed an interest in serving on the Dog Kennel Task Force. The next meeting several residents will comprise the Task Force Committee while residents will be able to listen to the discussion.
Summary of October 9, 2017 Meeting
A task force of approximately 12 was formed with no one selected as chair. Click here for the meeting minutes.
Summary of October 18, 2017 Meeting
Summary of November 6, 2017 Meeting
Summary of December 6, 2017 Meeting
Click here for the December 6, 2017 meeting agenda.
Minutes will be posted when available.
Special Board Meeting – April 5, 2018
See the Board Minutes page.
Last update: April 11, 2018.