By Lyndsie Ferrell
DEL NORTE— A local dog breeding facility is one step closer to approval following a public hearing held last Tuesday for a conditional use permit.
Alvin Mullett addressed the Rio Grande County Planning Commission stating that he and his wife would like to open a breeding facility on their property located just outside of Monte Vista on County Road 2E. Mullett stated that he and his family love animals and that they want to be able to supply friendly, pure bred animals to families and pet shops. “We love animals and we love being able to give families well adjusted, socialized animals,” said Mullett.
The commissioners’ chambers were packed with local residents and property owners that wanted to be present for the hearing. Planning Commission Chairman Dwight Freeman opened the public hearing, stating that anyone present was to wait for their chance to speak and asked that anyone who wished to express their thoughts on the subject stand and take an oath of honesty. “We will not tolerate any outbursts and you will be asked to leave if any of the comments are derogatory in nature.”
Several people in attendance displayed signs against the facility; one read, “Say No to Puppy Mills.” Literature on breeding facilities called “Puppy Mills” was distributed as well. Mullett explained that he did want a “puppy mill” and had no intention of running at the full capacity of their license. Those in attendance spoke during the public comment period, stating that even though the facility was in better condition than some breeders, the problem resides in the fact that it would generate more dogs that eventually end up in pet shops, where conditions for the animal are much worse.
In some of the literature handed out during the meeting, it stated that most of the mothers used in breeding facilities were disposed of after they could no longer have pups. Several people voiced the concern that the dogs would continue to end up at local shelters, adding to the problem of over populated shelters, rather than helping to alleviate it.
Additionally, the conditions of the facility were a high concern and the board asked that Mullett explain the property with a slide show of pictures.
“We do not use cages; each female has a large space to themselves, access to warm rooms that are cleaned daily. We only want to have about nine breeders instead of the 50 we are sanctioned for,” said Mullett.
Signs held by small children during the meeting showed how awful some breeding facilities are and the end result of injured and abused animals.
The floor was then opened to Land Use Planner Dixie Diltz, who read a letter sent by a neighbor, who shares property lines with Mullett. In the letter the land owner explained that she is in favor of allowing the dog breeding facility, stating that she has first-hand experience with the animals and helped to photograph the facility. “I have no issue with allowing a dog breeding facility. The Mulletts take very good care of the animals, going as far as building them homes,” stated the letter.
The planning commission also stated that they visited the facility the week before the hearing and complimented Mullett on the cleanliness of the structures and mentioned how friendly the animals were. “In all honestly, I personally was very impressed with the facility and the animals,” said Freeman.
Diltz continued the conversation, stating that a representative from the Colorado Department of Agriculture also visited the facility and would be returning to complete an inspection by the end of the month. “She also wrote a letter stating that the Mullett facility was in compliance with state standards and has no current discrepancies against them. Besides a negative mark for missing paperwork on one of the adoptions, she was in favor of the facility,” said Diltz. It was also mentioned that the water board had been contacted and went on record stating that, “They had no issues with the facility.”
By the end of the meeting, the commission voted to make a recommendation to the Rio Grande County Commissioners to allow the conditional use permit. A final decision will be made during the Rio Grande County Board of Commissioners on April 11 at 1:30 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend and voice further opinion on the subject.