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WAG gets hearing examiner's approval
Local dog rescue group Welfare for Animals Guild (WAG) received a green light from Clallam County Hearing Examiner Mark Nichols on Wednesday, Aug. 27, to move forward with its plans to convert a former plant nursery at 751 McComb Road into a dog rescue.
The conditional use permit was approved by Nichols, but is subject to WAG officials’ compliance with 18 conditions.
A limit of 12 small dogs and 12 large dogs, with the exception of the occasional litter of puppies, a veterinary check deadline for any new dogs, an approved pet waste disposal plan and noise mitigation requirements were among the conditions specified in the summary of decision.
“I have good feelings about it, but now we just have to look into how much it will all cost,” WAG president Judy Stirton said.
Now with ample feedback and a list of requirements from county officials to move forward with the purchase of the property intended to become Half Way Home Ranch, WAG board members have been researching the costs associated with satisfying the county’s conditions, Stirton said.
“Our biggest concern at this point is making sure we can afford the costs beyond the purchase of the property,” Stirton said. “It’s also important to keep in mind the cost of ongoing maintenance.”
If the eight volunteer board members for WAG decide the organization can afford the conditions of the conditional use permit and establish the Half Way Home Ranch, it will be WAG’s first and only shelter.
Since WAG was established in 2001, the organization has relied on foster homes for all rescued or accepted dogs. WAG also collaborates with multiple rescues and shelters to re-home dogs from all over the Olympic Peninsula.
“Right now we have a problem finding foster homes for some of the bigger dogs before they enter in the prison program,” Stirton said.
Dogs that need some additional attention and training often are enrolled in WAG’s prison program. The program took many months of preparation and proper training, but the first dog arrived at the Clallam Bay correction center in 2012. Since, inmates that have undergone training from a certified dog trainer are matched with dogs and provide them the socialization and basic obedience training the dogs need to be adoptable.
Half Way Home Ranch is intended to be a “temporary home” for dogs, Stirton said. The shelter would ensure a place for some the dogs needing a fews days to stay before going to the prison or a foster home.
Leading to the request for a conditional use permit, WAG volunteers have worked to raise funds for the purchase of the property on McComb Road. The property already has three structures including a house, barn and small outbuilding. A full-time caretaker is intended to occupy the house along with the small rescue dogs, whereas the barn is anticipated to house the large dogs.
During public comment at the Aug. 13 hearing examination one resident, Jennifer Dix, expressed opposition toward Half Way Home Ranch, which included “opposition to the proposed action based on, without limitation, concerns over pubic safety, potential impacts to the underlying Critical Aquifer Recharge Area and the number of dogs that would be housed on the property,” according to Nichols’ decision summary.
Wolfgang Kneidl, a neighboring property owner to the proposed location for Half Way Home Ranch, said he went to the hearing examination to learn more about the conditional use permit request and to be able to make an educated opinion. Had there been more information accessible on the county’s website to properly prepare, Kneidl said he probably would have spoken in opposition of WAG’s plan.
“I like to have all the facts before I speak on a subject,” Kneidl said. “What really irritated me about the whole process is that they (county officials) only inform residents within a 600-foot circle around the property and that does not provide a good representation.”
Despite the opposition, Nichols approved the permit, but not without conditions. Nichols’ decision is final unless a request for reconsideration and/or appeal is made within 10 days of the notice.
“If we (Kneidl and any other residents opposed) can pull it off, we will probably try to ask for a reconsideration,” Kneidl said.
Welfare for Animals Guild
The guild is a nonprofit dog rescue. The organization consists of an all-volunteer group with no central shelter, but relies on foster homes. Since 2001, WAG has acted as Sequim’s only all-dog rescue, but rescues dogs from all over the Olympic Peninsula and collaborates with other rescues and shelters to find dogs forever homes.
WAG president: Judy Stirton
Reach Alana Linderoth at firstname.lastname@example.org.