Well, the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors has done it again. Not only have they stopped a legitimate business enterprise, they have gone one step further; they have prohibited such businesses from operating in Fauquier County at all. The board of supervisors has passed an amendment to the zoning ordinances disallowing “standalone companion animal retailers” from operating in commercial districts (since they were only allowed in commercial districts before, this means they are not allowed anywhere in the county).
And they did this based on inuendoes, assumptions, false claims and social biases. This is how innocent women were hanged, burned and drowned during the Salem witch trials.
This started with the county’s zoning review board refusing to renew the Puppy Shop’s special permit to operate in New Baltimore. Even though the zoning board claimed this denial was based on zoning violations, I believe it was based upon a coordinated email campaign condemning pet stores of “only obtaining their puppies from puppy mills,” plus, other vindictive smear tactics against the Puppy Shop.
I reviewed all 136 comments sent to the Zoning Review Board. Based on the repetitive and comparative wording of the protesting letters, there appears to have been three coordinated efforts to influence the board. In fact, over half looked like form letters that were merely forwarded, with some having a line or two added.
Some of these added lines contained false accusations: puppies in filthy cages, no water for puppies, lack of ventilation. I personally know the Puppy Shop had ventilated, air-conditioned cages; clean water on continuous supply; clean bedding; and had no sick animals on display.
All of the emails were of the same vein: “Pet stores generally get their animals from puppy mills.” The board of supervisors even used this excuse to justify their action of prohibiting stores like the Puppy Shop from operating in the county.
It’s a false assumption! I don’t disagree that puppy mills are inhumane atrocities. But you don’t condemn another industry because of that. Legitimate enterprises, such as the Puppy Shop, trying to operate by properly following USDA policies, verifying the sources of their puppies are coming from USDA compliant breeders should be encouraged. This gives animal lovers a legitimate source and alternative for obtaining healthy, loving pets.
It was interesting that several of the protest letters supported pet shops if they sold animals from animal shelters and/or the Fauquier SPCA. Many of the letters also espoused that we don’t need pet shops when animal shelters are overpopulated.
It should be understood that animal shelters do not get nice healthy plump puppies from breeders. They receive animals, young and old, from a variety of sources -- some from individuals and families that no longer want their pets and take them to the shelter. Others are free-roam street animals that have been captured and delivered to the shelters. And still others are confiscated, by the police and animal control officers, from abusive environments.
However, there are some of us that do not want other peoples’ rejected, unwanted, poorly trained, rebellious and troubled animals. Nor do we want to take on animals that have medical, physical or mental issues from poor care or abuse.
I personally know individuals that have taken on pets from animal shelters or pet adoption agencies that have been provided animals with health and obedience issues. Individuals on fixed incomes that have been burdened with continuous vet bills mounting into hundreds if not thousands of dollars that they can ill afford.
But obviously, not in Fauquier County, according to the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors.
It is easy to tear down and destroy, as the board of supervisors have done, rather than govern and build up.