By John Green

The Hutchinson News

The Reno County Commission on Tuesday approved a special-use permit to allow a poodle breeder to set up a business at a home in rural Reno County, despite several local animal activists expressing concern.

The business owner, Curtis Golden, of Renowned Poodles in Alexander, Arkansas, offered some assurances to the half-dozen people who showed up for the meeting that the business planned on 2 1/2 acres at 82nd Avenue and Yaggy Road will not add to the pet overpopulation problem in the county.

Sylvia Griggs advised the commission she'd done some research on Golden and his business and it appeared he has a clean, well-run operation.

"The fact he wants to sell 140 dogs a year is what concerns me," said Griggs, president of Hutchinson's Cause for Paws chapter. "The message (approval of the permit) sends is our community supports high-population dog breeding."

She also asked questions about whether the animals would be exercised enough because of the limited staff -- basically Golden, his wife and children -- whether the shelter would go beyond state minimum standards for housing the dogs, and how deeply Golden would check the references and homes of animal buyers.

Charles Buckaloo said he hadn't had time to check on Golden and his business and asked the commission to delay a decision for several weeks. Ardith Alexander, coordinator of a local spay/neuter program, feared it would draw other pet breeders to the region.

County Administrator Gary Meagher told commissioners he had contacted health and government officials in Arkansas, where Golden's family continues to live and run the business pending their relocation here, and that there were no complaints against the business.

"The way he represents the business online, it appears to be a well-run organization," Meagher said.

In reference to the number of dogs on the permit, Golden said he didn't expect to have that number, but he didn't want to have to go through the permit process again if the number increased.

The animals will have access to large, fenced play areas and food and water 24/7, he said, and will live in climate-controlled buildings.

"We're well aware of the USDA and state requirements and our vet says we'll have three times the space required by the law," Golden said.

"If someone is spending $1,000 to $1,500 on a purebred dog, they're going to take care of it," Golden said about checking buyers' homes and references. "If there's a problem with the animal, we'll welcome it back if they can get it to us."

Asked why he selected Reno County, Golden said he lives with his parents in Wichita pending the family move, and he was looking for a home in a rural area near a lake, like he has in Arkansas.

Commissioners, in voting 3-0 for the permit, noted their role was simply determining whether the operation met property zoning and land use for the area, and that it did.

In response to another question, Golden said there are about 90 purebred Standard Poodle breeders in the country.

"From everything I've heard, he appears to be a high-quality breeder," said Commissioner Dan Deming. "I understand concerns about what might happen, but we're fortunate, if we're going to have one, that we'll have a high-quality one. We could do a lot worse."

(c)2014 The Hutchinson News