A Fauquier couple have withdrawn an application for a special use permit to operate a controversial kennel in the face of opposition and accusations they operate a ‘puppy mill’.
Emmanuel and Corrie Warren withdrew their application to breed and sell therapy dogs on the advice of their legal counsel, according to Ben Holt, a Fauquier County community development planner.
“Therefore, this request will not be addressed at the September 1 meeting of the BZA and no site visits will take place on that date,” Holt said in an email Monday.
The Fauquier Zoning Appeal Board held a public hearing Aug. 4, but postponed action pending a visit to the Warrens-run Ecoganic Farm kennel three miles east of Warrenton. They live on Ecoganic Farm Lane near Old Auburn Road.
The Warrens and two others who expressed their support outnumbered other neighborhood residents and representatives from the Animal Rescue Fund of Virginia and Canine Companions for Independence. Opponents have questioned the Warrens’ ability to humanely care for the increased number of dogs they wish to breed and breed for sale, and whether they are able to train the dogs for service and therapy purposes.
The Warrrens have also been criticized for the medical ‘bark-softening’ procedure they use to make their dogs’ barking less loud.
“This is by no means a puppy mill,” Corrie Warren said in comments to the BZA during the public hearing.
She said the animals are under the care of a veterinarian and have access to indoor shelter and an automatic feeder. Puppies are handled daily, bathed at least once a week, wormed and vaccinated, and given the nutrition and water they need. The couple currently have 16 Bernese Mountain Dogs, 16 Poodles, 11 Old English Sheepdogs and three Labradoodles.
The Warrens wanted to expand the operation to allow for 65 adult dogs, 48 litters per year, and dog training.
“Last year we decided we wanted to do this as a company,” she said.
They operated without a county license.
“We were not aware of the special permit. At the level where we want to do it, it’s a new business,” said Corrie Warren. “Last year we decided to do it as a company.”
She added: “Our family has benefited immensely from the therapy dogs. It is a joyful enterprise. Our whole family participates.
Warren said they have over 100 names on a waiting list for their dogs.
“We take the time to find the right owners,” she said. “We rarely get feedback.”
Females are artificially inseminated, which results in smaller litters, she said.
She said the bark-softening procedure is “humane.”
“It’s much less invasive than sterilization,” she said. “It doesn’t remove the bark. Their voice does not carry.
In addition to raising dogs, the Warrens have adopted a dozen children from other countries, according to the couple’s website.
The kennel license application listed three sons living at home who worked part-time at the kennel when not in high school or college.