A new draft ordinance document was distributed and discussed at the Tulare County Animal Services (TCAS) Advisory Committee meeting on August 9.
The goal of the advisory committee is to update the county’s regulations concerning domestic animals and protect them within the unincorporated area of Tulare County. Copies of the draft ordinances and new standards can be downloaded from the TCAS website, www.tcanimalservices.org
Patrick Hamblin, Director of TCAS, invited concerned citizens to email their feedback and suggest changes.
“We will be accepting comments and recommendations from the community beginning now through September 28 at [email protected]”
Community outreach meetings will be held in September and TCAS is hoping to present a final draft of the ordinances to the Tulare County Board of Supervisors (BOS) at its first meeting in October. With the BOS’ approval the ordinances will be ready to enforce in January of 2019.
During public comment attendees spoke both in favor and against the operations at Top Dog Kennel, the subject of recent community concern. Tulare County Supervisor Amy Shuklian pointed out that there are 12 commercial kennels in the county and that Top Dog is not the only one for which the new ordinances will apply.
Elle Blankenship read a statement from Petra House who runs a Labrador rescue out of Fresno. House said that she has no problem with responsible breeders, but Ron Abbott’s Top Dog Kennel is not a commercial business but a puppy mill.
House said that she understands that the county cannot shut Top Dog Kennel down but, considering how over-burdened the Central Valley is with rescue dogs, believes the county should make such large operations not cost effective through tough regulations.
Jeanne Kirkland didn’t like the fact that Abbott raised dogs specifically for profit and allegedly maximizes production over the health of the animals. “The county should have a zero tolerance for puppy mills,” she said, “and remove the profit element.”
Amy Lockwood said that she has experience with puppy mills and that she can’t believe that the county doesn’t already have rules in place to handle a business such as Abbott’s.
The last commenter said that her cousin went to Top Dog Kennel and said the facility was filthy and that “the dogs were jammed into cage after cage after cage.”
Leroy Green, who owns a kennel in Fresno, spoke not only in defense of Top Dog Kennel but in defense of Abbott’s character.
“I have known Ron Abbott for approximately five years. I have found him to be a spiritual man, a man of integrity and humility. We both enjoy breeding and training bird dogs and German shepherd dogs. In the breeding and training of dogs a person’s word is one of the most important aspects of the business. Ron exemplifies this quality. His employees have the highest respect for him. He leads by example,” said Green.
Green continued, “Having been a Fresno Police Department Chaplain for 2 years I have seen all walks of life, as you can well imagine, Ron and his operation are a perfect 10 on a scale of 1 thru 10.”
Abbott attended the meeting and introduced himself, saying he was available to the committee if they had any questions. Time had run out so he did not get a chance to speak during public comment but said in an email:
“Amy Shuklian, Board of Supervisors, came to my home, we visited about 30 minutes, then she and her assistant, took a tour of my Kennels! Their comments were that they were surprised, in a good way, with the space, and condition of my facility.
“As to the Advisory Meeting, I just wanted to be available to any serious members! The comments about, animals in cages, by some, is so far from truth, it’s embarrassing for their ignorance!”
Draft ordinances and Commercial Kennel Minimum Standards
After public comment Hamblin distributed the draft of the ordinances and a draft of the kennel minimum standards. He said that the documents have been in the works for over two years and the committee took recommendations from the SPCA and other states and counties on such issues as recommended measurements for enclosures, hours of exercise, and number of allowed animals. He said the committee relied heavily on San Luis Obispo’s ordinances as they were a good fit for Tulare County.
Hamblin pointed out a few highlights of the new ordinances, such as the new breeder’s permit, section on violations, and that all sales of animals will be banned at swap meets. There will also be mandatory micro-chipping for every dog.
The biggest change in the ordinances that will affect Abbott’s business is the maximum of 25 adult dogs. An adult dog is four months old. Abbott has struggled to keep within the former restriction of a maximum of 45 dogs and has been cited by the county for being over that number.
According to former employees, Abbott has an especially difficult time staying under 45 dogs after the births of multiple litters that have not sold and have reached four months old.
Abbott’s Satisfied Customers Speak out
Abbott stated that for every unsatisfied customer he has hundreds of happy customers. At his request many of his satisfied customers emailed the Valley Voice to give their first person testimonies. All of the customers profiled in this article said they did not attend Abbott’s church nor were they members of his family.
Jeff Krikorian from Bakersfield said:
“My wife and I had the most pleasant time during our time of buying our Labradoodle At Top Dog. Ron and his staff were wonderful to work with from the beginning of our first conversation to the final purchase . The kennels are a four star facility as far as we could see and we received a tour of the entire Kennel. The dogs are beautiful and precious and you could eat off the floors. Ron has called my wife and myself several times to check on our Molly to see how she is doing. That is first class customer service. So without being rude to the people writing these negative post. You are liars, and you are activists , and that is what you do.”
Crystal Bubeck wrote to Abbott:
“Our BEAUTIFUL BABY GIRL just turned 3 years. Our Sierra is absolutely the BEST dog ever. I got her for my husband birthday from Ronald Abbott, and its definitely my husband’s best friend and bestest friend to our son.
Mr. Rob Abbott, everything you said about her temperament and natural beauty and EXCELLENCE health, and the back round of our new pup was great. And it NEVER ONCE LEFT my husband and I, EVER questioning our decision to bring her to her FUR-EVER home. We have had a blessed and beautiful time so far with our Sierra.”
Victor Molano wrote:
“Ron recently lost one of his studs that he has loved and spent many hours and money to care and keep alive. I’ve seen the devastation it caused him to lose a dog he loves so much. I have seen the love and nurture he gives to his dogs of all ages and breeds. I would highly recommend and reference Ronald Abbott to anyone as a qualified breeder who loves and gives a good life to the purebred dogs he has raised.”
Linda Schimizzi from Mission Viejo said:
“We were pleased to see that the dogs and puppies were kept in large dog runs instead of tiny cages. Also there is a huge enclosed area where the puppies get to romp and play with each other but not roaming out in the open. This area was very clean and afforded the puppies lots of room to run and chase each other………We are very happy that we found a breeder like Mr. Abbott who obviously cares about the health and overall well being of his dogs/puppies. Top Dog Enterprises is NOT a puppy mill.”
Timothy and Mary Hollabaugh from Nevada said:
“We purchased our dear little puppy Roxy from Ron Abbott’s Top Dog Kennels in June of 2017. We were specifically looking for Yorkshire terriers and Roxy fit the bill perfectly. We selected the Top Dog Kennels for our purchase because we knew from past experience that the Abbotts Kennel treated each animal with the utmost of care and love. Roxy displayed all the characteristics of an animal that was properly loved and nurtured. When we picked her up she was freshly bathed and combed. While we were there we also saw many other animals. Each looked to be in great health and good spirits.”
The following couple did want their name in the paper out of fear of retaliation from “animal activists.”
“………you can imagine the surprise and shock it was to find Mr. Abbotts name associated with a ‘puppy mill’. I knew there must have been a mistake this could not be the same breeder we know.
“………As a family, we took our 3 children out to visit his farm and see the puppies. When we arrived my husband and I were very impressed with his farm and the animals that resided on it. Growing up on a working farm of 5 acres, I know firsthand of the amount of work that it takes to keep a farm in such an impressive state of cleanliness. I first noticed there was no odor, as we walked around his farm showing our kids the all the different animals waiting our turn to meet the puppies. All the kennels were very clean, animals were placed appropriately, and his staff were very attentive to them. We were able to see firsthand that the animals on his farm were well taken care of.
“We visited Mr. Abbotts farm on three separate occasions, and always found the farm in its usual impressive state.
“(We) are very offended that Mr. Abbotts name, and business is being portrayed in this manner. It is wrong to have this done to someone, and have it advertised when it is false. Especially when more than likely those making accusations have not personally have been on his farm, or possibly used false information to do so. ……. Damage has been done, I hope you will consider helping Mr. Abbott and print true information from people who have experience with him.”