A longtime dog kennel can now proceed with planned expansions at its facility on Elliott Family Parkway in Dawson County.
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The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a special use permit on Aug. 18 for Happy Dog Retreat’s proposed expansions, with stipulations for indoor air conditioning and heating and soundproofing.
The land encompassing the kennel is zoned Residential Agriculture, which falls within the purview of special use. During their July meeting, the Dawson County Planning Commission recommended approval for the special use permit.
Current owner Laura Manner told the commissioners she bought it five years ago and added the previous owner operated the facility for 20 years before that.
Proposed additions to the kennel include a new office building, about 612 square feet, with an extra three dog spaces for special needs or sensitive dogs, and a 1,548-square foot indoor recreation building.
Manner said the relocated office is necessary because it can be hard to answer phones and do similar business with dogs moving and being exercised so close to the current office.
She explained that an existing cement pad would be the basis for a closed-in recreational area.
District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett wanted to make sure the new indoor dog recreation facility would also have heating, and Manner and Farrell clarified that the building would be climate controlled for the winter, too.
“We have a lot of dogs. We have a lot of yard space,” said Manner, “but we don’t have a closed-in area so we can give these dogs proper activity during the cold, heat, snow and rain that Dawsonville gets.”
Manner also shared that her kennel holds an average of 35-45 dogs, but that number can fluctuate depending on how many dogs, including singles, doubles and/or triple-dog families, check in at a time.
During holidays, weekends or other times when people go on vacation, the kennel has boarded up to 70-75 dogs, though the capacity is slightly higher than that, Manner added.
“I’ve been doing this [type of business] almost 20 years, and I don't care to add dogs or keep them at a high level because it's more about their care,” Manner said. “If we start looking to add dogs, we're going to water down what we have (as a service) and I don't want that.”
There haven’t been noise complaints for the facility, as it’s surrounded by woods and pastures, Manner said.
“I believe she cares about her animals,” said Fausett.
“I do,” Manner said. “You can’t fake a business like this. You’ve got to be in it with your heart. That’s why I'd like to see those improvements for the dogs.”