Spring Green residents, activists opposed to animal research

Spring Green-area residents and activists were staunchly opposed to two dog breeding facilities that, if approved, would sell the animals to medical researchers. The smaller of the two facilities was denied Wednesday. 

A Sauk County couple will not be able to use a facility at their residence to breed dogs to sell for medical research.

At a meeting Wednesday with around 90 people in attendance, the village of Spring Green Plan Commission voted 4-3 to deny a business permit to Jill and Clinton Kane.

Approval of a permit for a larger facility in the town of Spring Green will be decided by the county. The Spring Green Town Board, which initially recommended the county approve the permit, reversed that decision and recommended denial after learning the Kanes planned to sell the dogs they bred for medical testing.

Potential dog breeding space

Shown is the larger of the Kanes' two facilities, located on Big Hollow Road, that could be used to house 100 to 200 dogs before they are sold for medical research. Sauk County will vote on whether to approve this facility. 

The Sauk County Land Resources and Environment Committee will consider approval of the second facility after a public hearing July 23.

The Kanes applied on May 22 to use two different properties for “commercial kennels, dog boarding, training and grooming” purposes. The application did not require them to report to whom they would sell the dogs, but it did state that the Kanes possessed a Class A dog breeder license with the USDA, which allows them to sell 25 or more dogs in a year.

Plan Commission chair Joel Marcus, who voted against the Kanes’ request for a permit, said Thursday the village allows small-scale dog kennels for boarding and grooming pets, but that is not what the Kanes wanted to operate. Together, the Kanes’ two facilities would have housed a combined 100 to 200 dogs at a time.

Marcus said he saw the Kanes’ business as “more of a factory or agricultural-type operation,” instead of a kennel, which is why the Plan Commission voted to deny a permit.

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“We thought that there was a significant difference in the intent to create a small-scale business that basically served consumers versus creating a business which more or less wholesaled dogs for medical experimentation,” Marcus said.

In addition to concerns over animal testing, neighbors who spoke against the dog-breeding facility at Wednesday’s meeting were worried about noise, odor and potential groundwater contamination from a large number of dogs, Marcus said.

Before the Plan Commission’s denial, the Joint Extraterritorial Zoning Committee had voted 5-1 to approve the Kanes’ permit, with conditions that would have addressed many of the residents’ concerns, said zoning committee chair Fred Lausly.

Because the Kanes’ residence is located just outside of the village of Spring Green, the extraterritorial zoning committee needed to approve the permit first. Lausly said based on the village’s zoning laws, he did not think there were sufficient grounds to prevent the Kanes from having a kennel.

“It met all of the requirements within the village’s zoning code, so we couldn’t just deny the application,” Lausly said.

To allay concerns from village residents, the zoning committee outlined conditions that the Kanes would have had to follow, including limiting the number of dogs to 70, requiring soundproofing on the structures and requiring the Kanes to approve a waste management plan through the county.

But Marcus said the Plan Commission did not want to set a precedent that would allow other large commercial dog breeding facilities to come to the village.

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Emily Hamer is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She joined the paper in April 2019 and was formerly an investigative reporting intern at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.