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Boarding kennel’s lack of license raises questions about others

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Until recently, the head of a local, animal-focused nonprofit group operated her private business without receiving state-mandated inspections.

Since 2008, Shelter Guardians chairwoman Nina Dix has owned and operated an animal boarding kennel called Doggie Holiday. It’s not something she has hidden. Dix’s business is a member of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce. She has also been among the most vocal animal advocates in Rowan County.

Late July, however, was the first time the state animal welfare officials inspected Doggie Holiday. Department of Agriculture spokesperson Jennifer Kendrick said Doggie Holiday wasn’t penalized for its lack of a state license. In fact, Kendrick said Dix’s business was “immaculate.” She said Dix kept animals “very healthy” and Doggie Holiday “certainly isn’t doing anything wrong.”

Dix only answered a few questions about the issue, but said her lack of a license raises questions about others who may operate without being inspected by the state.

“I dare say there’s a lot of other people out there operating without a license too,” she said. “I’m not saying what happened is not an issue. I’m saying it was mistake.”

In Rowan County, state records show there are currently 11 boarding kennels that are active and regularly inspected by the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Welfare Section. Dix’s Doggie Holiday is now part of that group.

The others include Animal House Pet Boarding on Statesville Boulevard, Brown’s Kountry Kennels in Gold Hill, Camp Fur Throttle in Gold Hill, Country Canine Boarding Kennel on Briar Creek Road, Country Critters in China Grove, Doggone Fun Daycare in Mt. Ulla, Loving Pup Resort and Spa on Old Union Church Road, Main Stream Pets on South Main Street, Pet Peeps Boarding, Daycare and Transport in China Grove, Petsmart on Faith Road and S&S Outdoors in Cleveland.

Any business that charges a fee to board animals must be inspected, Kendrick said. The inspection ensures boarding kennels are in compliance with the Animal Welfare Act.

Dix said she wasn’t told by county employees that she needed a state license when she first opened her business in 2008. In fact, when asked by the Salisbury Post about the requirements to open an animal boarding kennel, neither Rowan County government employees nor City of Salisbury employees were aware that boarding kennels required a license from the state’s Department of Agriculture.

When asked, Dix said she didn’t think county government employees should have told her that a state-issued license was required when she first opened her business. Kendrick, however, said increasing awareness about the need for a state license is “probably something we need to look into.”

“I don’t know what’s required locally for zoning but, since we’re on a state level, there’s a breakdown there possibly,” Kendrick said.

She said it’s important for pet owners to check inspection reports for local kennels, which can be accessed at ncagr.gov/vet/aws/Inspections/Rowan_County/index.htm. The Animal Welfare Section also keeps reports for the Rowan County Animal Shelter and private shelters such as Faithful Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Kendrick said boarding kennels would only be penalized for not having a license if there’s evidence that the business purposely avoided being inspected.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron 704-797-4246.

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