The Warrenton Town Council approved 6-0 a special use permit on July 13 for Pawz Paradise Dog Daycare to operate with four staff members and three to four volunteers at 274 Broadview Ave. The business will be open from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The site is between The Warrenton Florist and a former bowling alley in a strip mall.
Wanye Solomon, 20, has been operating a dog walking service – Biscuits Dog Walking & Sitting - in Prince William and Fauquier counties for six years. He will expand his operation into a daytime dog minder service. He explained to council members that his customers would like a cage-free environment where their dogs could be supervised all day. Dogs would not be allowed to stay overnight.
Dog training, washing and nail trimming are other services that will be offered.
The business will have soundproofing installed and dog waste would be handled by an outside company, Dog Waste Depot. There will be no outside play area; the dogs would not be walked in the neighborhood, although they could be taken to the Warrenton dog park for exercise.
The special-use permit was recommended to the town council by the Warrenton Planning Commission at its June 15 meeting.
During the council’s morning work session July 13, Council Member Heather Sutphin (Ward 1) expressed concern about the care the animals would receive and wondered if there would be ample room for the number of dogs Solomon wanted to serve. Solomon’s original plan was to house between 18 to 25 dogs at a time. “How in the world are they going to have 18 to 25 dogs in there without any kennels … I am really just concerned because I love animals … I have a lot of questions … I’m just a little nervous about this.” said Sutphin.
Denise Harris explained that Solomon plans to keep small dogs in one large room and bigger dogs in another large room.
Warrenton Mayor Carter Nevill cautioned the council that it was there to decide on a special-use permit, not to judge Solomon’s business plan. “I want to make sure we stay within our lane.”
Warrenton attorney Whit Robinson said that it is appropriate to consider the amount of space available for the dogs, and Councilman Kevin Carter (Ward 5) suggested the council ascertain an industry standard for what an appropriate space per dog would be.
At the public hearing that evening, the council suggested three additional conditions for the special-use permit. One of these which would be to limit the number of dogs to one dog per 75 feet of space – per a recommendation from the SPCA. That would mean the number of dogs that could be kept on premises would be limited to 18 to 20 dogs.
The other two conditions stated that there would be no boarding of dogs allowed and no dogs would be allowed to stay overnight. Furthermore, if the applicant wanted to change that, he would need to reapply.
Solomon confirmed that he agreed to the three additional conditions and that “Fauquier County is a place where dogs matter.” He said he looked forward to expanding his business into the Warrenton space.
Two speakers vouched for Solomon during a public hearing during the evening session. They both commented that he had watched over their dogs and had proven reliable and capable. One said that her dogs were elderly, with special needs and required extra care. “I trust him with my dogs’ lives,” she said.
Devon Settle, executive director of the Fauquier SPCA, urged the council to table the proposal for 30 days until some details could be worked out. A licensed veterinary technician with 22 years of experience, Settle said, “A doggy day care would be an asset to the community … His vision can happen,” but Settle said she felt that the number of dogs was too high for the amount of space available. “Eighteen to 25 dogs in a storefront without cages is going to have some issues … I don’t think that is adequate space … Especially if they do get upset with each other, and you have older, smaller dogs, some with medical issues, along with younger, spry dogs ... I would like to see him get that number down.”
Settle also said that she didn’t think that the number of staff was adequate to handle that many dogs.
Before voting, council member James Hartman (Ward 4) said that although he could not tell Solomon how to run his business, he encouraged him to seek Settle’s advice and counsel as he worked toward opening his business. He praised the SPCA director’s experience and knowledge and her passion for animals. “The Fauquier SPCA is one of the best in the nation.”
Bill Semple (Ward 2) said that he thought that Solomon’s business would be to some extent self-regulating. “And if you have too many dogs, you’ll know it.”
As part of the motion to approve the special use permit, the council reserved the right to review the special use permit after a year, to consider whether there were any violations of the SUP’s conditions or complaints about the business.
Solomon said he is appreciative of the town’s decision to approve the SUP. He said. “I’m grateful for their response. We got a ‘yes...’ I was ready to expect the conditions they gave me... and they are not harsh.”
He said he signed a lease for the space on Broadview Avenue in May, as hearings with the Warrenton Planning Commission began. “I’m really happy it was approved. We would have had to start all over again; but with the grace of God, it all went through.”
Taking the advice of town council members, Solomon said he has been in touch with Devon Settle and will meet with her soon.
The Pawz Paradise owner said he just hired three employees, for a total of five. He would also like to welcome volunteers who would like to work with dogs. He said he has six or seven clients already signed up.
The building is almost ready to welcome clients. “We just have to put a line in for a washing station, then we’ll be done,” Solomon said.
Pawz Paradise will open its doors Monday, July 26 and will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the Fauquier Chamber of Commerce at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 27.
Reach Robin Earl at firstname.lastname@example.org