The Belmont Planning Board and the Board of Health will be working together to make changes to a pair of Town Meeting articles that, if passed, would force Crate Escape, the doggie day care center located on Brighton Street, to close its doors, leaving 300 customers and 150 dogs – 75 percent from Belmont – without a home of the day.
“The intent [of the articles] were not to effect day care, only overnight kennels,” said the Planning Board’s Elizabeth Allison, who said she will be sitting down with the Health Board’s Vice Chair Dr. David Alper and the town’s Health Director Stefan Russakow to replace the current static number of dogs that can stay in a “kennel.”
“Is this a backdoor way to eliminate doggy day care in town? No,” said Allison at a Planning Board meeting on Tuesday, April 15, at Town Hall.
The two Town Meeting articles, number 8 and 9, updates Belmont’s decade-old animal bylaw to meet state standards and the zoning code on the definition of what is a “kennel”; the current regulations specify a kennel as being an outdoor shelter. Under the existing code, that facility could only hold up to 25 dogs at one time.
Under the new proposed code, the definition of kennel is expanded to include commercial entities such as overnight and extended-stay as well as day care businesses. But the Town Meeting article that would amend the Health Code did not change the maximum number of 25 dogs that could be kept in a licensed location.
According to Crate Escape’s owner Bradley Hastings, he would be forced to close his Belmont site if the articles passed Town Meeting early in May.
In response to Hastings’ concern, the Allison group is considering replacing the 25 dog limit with a formula establishing a square-footage percentage of dogs that can be safely held in an interior site such as Crate Escape.
“We will come up with something to keep [Hastings] here,” said Allison, who said she will be seeking the help of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in creating the formula.