The Town of Starkey will hold a public hearing for a moratorium on permitting commercial dog kennels so its planning board can write a new zoning law.

Clarification: This article clarifies an earlier version of this article which stated Susan Chana Lask wrote the law adopted by the town of Romulus. The Romulus law was written by Steve Getman, now Schuyler County Attorney, when he was the Romulus Town Attorney. 

The town of Starkey has set a hearing for public comments about a moratorium on issuing permits for commercial dog breeding kennels in the town. The hearing will be held Jan. 4 in the town hall on Seneca Street in Dundee.

“The truth is, a person should be able to have a kennel — a good kennel. That’s what the moratorium is about,” said Councilman Fred Shoemaker, who says he visited a Starkey kennel before a local permit was issued and felt it was acceptable.

Local veterinarian Susan Collins said all the other kennels in this area are better than that one, and she encourages town officials to visit the businesses in Starkey.

Collins said she has been in several in the town, commenting, “They are nothing like the ‘puppy mills’.”

Just a few days after officials in neighboring Barrington heard strong opposition from residents and others who are concerned about the number of dog kennels in Yates County, the Starkey Town Board heard a presentation by attorney Susan Chana Lask, and others who oppose large scale dog breeding operations, calling them “puppy mills.”

The board will have the town’s attorney review the proposed moratorium, provided to the town by Chana Lask, a New York City attorney who became involved with efforts to oppose commercial breeding kennels in Barrington in November.

Karen Doucette, a veterinarian who lives in the neighboring town of Wayne, told the Starkey board members she would help the town gather information that can be used in writing a new town law outlining conditions for the operation of kennels in the town, and she described the poor condition of animals she’s encountered from large kennels.

Another local veterinarian, Marlene Button, advised the town officials to consider including animal rescue operations and organizations like the humane societies in any new law, noting that those organizations are exempt from the minimum standards set forth in current state regulations. “If we are going to make the animal the issue, the standards need to cover them (rescues and other animal care organizations) too.”

Commercial dog breeding facilities, which are regulated by either the New York State Department of Agriculture and Marketing or the U.S. Department of Agriculture, depending on their size and the type of sales that originate from the kennel, have been criticized for poor care of animals. Some town officials have visited kennels that are seeking local special use permits for their operations.

The proposed moratorium, written by Lask, and based on one from the town of Romulus, will be reviewed and possibly adjusted by the town’s attorney before the public hearing.

A moratorium will give the town’s planning board time to write a new law setting local regulations for the operation of commercial dog kennels in Starkey. If such a law is adopted, it will be the first in Yates County.

In related news, John Sensenig, of Barrington has contacted state officials to surrender his pet dealer license after his plans to sell puppies from his home, and his son’s plans to operate a breeding kennel drew opposition resulting in the pair withdrawing applications for special use permits in that town.