Earlier this month the Marshall County Board of Zoning Appeals heard the request to permit a special use for Michael Hochstetler to allow a 25-adult dog breeding kennel at 2484 2B Road in Bremen. 

The family currently has a kennel operation with 9 dogs and found out when they applied for a building permit to build a new 16 x 48-foot kennel they were in violation.  The violation is because they have more than 5 dogs and the dogs are not family pets but used in a business operation.   

The new kennel structure would have 14 inside houses that are large enough for 2 adult dogs and each has a 16-foot run 5½ feet wide. It will be built to USDA specs and the breeder intends to be certified in Purdue’s K9 Care Certification program. 

The Hoschstetlers anticipate having 150 to 225 Golden Retrievers and Bernese Mountain puppies annually.  They will compost the waste with their horse manure and apply it to their fields.  The adult females are limited to 6 years of breeding and then would be rehomed as pets.

The Marshall County Technical Review Committee and Plan Commission staff recommended approval as long as the Hochstetlers meet the ordinance requirements, limit adult dogs to 9, and come into compliance with the county’s kennel ordinance for their current violation within 6 months.

During the Public Hearing, Nancy Cox from the Marshall County Humane Society spoke against the request with a concern that the Hochstetlers will be selling the puppies to a broker.  She said the puppies are taken from the parents at 8 weeks and can be shipped across the nation to pet stores and such.  Cox said the prospective buyers don’t have an opportunity to see the kennels or meet the parents of the puppies and typically the puppies aren’t well socialized nor housebroken.

There was also a letter read from Cheryl Rager of 3rd Road who wanted to persuade the County BZA to deny the special use request for the kennel operation.  She said Lagrange and Elkhart Counties are some of the worst in the nation for puppy mills and she doesn’t want Marshall County to fall into that notoriety.

Two individuals who also operate kennels in the area spoke in favor of the Hochesters request for a special-use kennel and a letter was presented with the names and signatures of neighbors supporting the home-based business. 

With only 4 of the 5 County BZA members present, the Hochsteters asked the County BZA to table their request until the May 9th meeting allowing them time to conduct additional research and possibly meet with Nancy Cox of the Humane Society.

The County BZA agreed to continue the discussion at their next meeting.