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Owners Rebuild After Kennel Fire

July 1, 2007

An Amish family's kennel in Bland County, Virginia that lost nearly 200 dogs and puppies in a fire will be allowed to rebuild, but only by meeting requirements intended to prevent another blaze.

Bland County supervisors last week approved a conditional use permit to allow Ivan Schmucker Jr. to rebuild Dogwood Kennels, but required a sprinkler system and fire detection equipment in the new building.

Schmucker has said he will use solar power to heat the kennel. The fire in March was believed to have been started by a kerosene heater.

Animal welfare advocates from around the country have labeled Dogwood Kennels a "puppy mill" and demanded that county officials look closely at a range of issues to ensure the proper care of the animals.

The kennel is one of 14 dealers licensed in Virginia to sell to pet stores. Supporters of the Schmuckers attested to their concern for animals.

Other conditions required of the new kennel include a comprehensive safety evacuation plan and access for unannounced county inspections.

The site will be limited to 250 adult dogs.

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