Fauquier County’s Board of Zoning Appeals on Thursday unanimously denied an application by a New Baltimore puppy dealer to renew the special permit that allows the company to operate in Fauquier County. The puppy shop’s permit expires on August 6th.
The board received more than 130 written public submissions against the motion prior to the meeting, with most citing opposition to puppy traffickers in general. However, this type of business is permitted under Virginia law and can be operated in the Fauquier County’s business districts with special permission from the Zoning Board.
Board chairman John Meadows (Lee District) stressed ahead of Thursday’s meeting that the board could only consider a limited range of zone-related matters when considering the application. “All board members are animal lovers,” Meadows said, saying the board could not respond to the many allegations in public comments that dog dealers generally rely on so-called “puppy mills,” where dogs are bred in inhumane conditions.
Puppies sold at The Puppy Shop are contained in glass and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic cases, according to the Fauquier County Department of Community Development. Each enclosure is equipped with LED lighting, air filters, doors, food bowls and water bottle holders.
Ultimately, the decision not to renew the approval cited the applicant’s failure to comply with the conditions of the one-year special approval granted by the Board of Directors last August. The store, owned by Gainesville-based Angela Jrab, has been cited four times by the county for zoning and building permit violations since it opened in December. The resolution states that due to the previous violations, it is unlikely that Jrab will meet the conditions set by the board in the future.
Jrab spoke in defense of her actions Thursday, covering every zone and building quote, and stressing that she was in good standing with the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Department of Animal Control, which granted her a trading license in December. “People will devastate me to no end,” she told the board. “I’m not hiding anything. … I have no animal control violations, “she said. “Animal control has no problem with us and I don’t know how else I can prove myself.”
Angela Jrab, owner of The Puppy Shop in New Baltimore, shows one of the documents she must have for every animal in her shop.
The Puppy Shop was most recently cited on May 21 for having 31 puppies in the store, which the district office found to be a violation of the company’s special permit. The permit allows the simultaneous sale of up to 24 puppies and states: “No dogs may be bred, groomed, trained or housed on the property.”
Jrab argued that the seven additional dogs were not for sale and therefore did not violate the terms of the permit, claiming the puppies had just come from a breeder and were being quarantined. When pressed by Meadows – “But [the puppies] was there. “- Jrab replied:” You were there. You weren’t for sale. You have been quarantined. ” Elsewhere she added, “We had 31 puppies that we wanted to sell, but not all of them were for sale.”
Regarding two zoning quotes for improper signs near the store, Jrab argued the zoning department was not adhering to the same standard of other nearby businesses – businesses which it claimed are also in violation of the county’s signing ordinances.
“After the business owner had been notified in writing, inadmissible and inadmissible signs were put up several times,” says the community development personnel report, which was presented to the board in advance of the meeting. According to the report, multiple verbal and written warnings were issued to Jrab. Formal infringement notices were issued to Jrab on April 15 and May 3.
Jrab also responded to a stoppage of work enacted against her company in August 2020, just a week after her original Fauquier County special permit was approved. The quote claimed that work that required planning permission was done without one. “It wasn’t like we had anything set up,” said Jrab. “We actually removed what was there for the cleaners.” (A cleaning company that previously operated on the shop front.)
Jrab said work began in April 2020 – she signed a lease for the space in March 2020 – but most of the work involved ripping out decades-old equipment and little actual construction.
She also defended her company against the public comments accusing her of sourcing dogs from puppy factories and detailing every document – such as health certificates and documentation of the puppies’ origins – that she must have for each puppy in the store. She refuses to source puppies who don’t have a statutory health certificate, she said. “The animal inspection can come at any time,” she emphasized again. “You have never written to us about anything.”
Angela Jrab (seated, in black shirt) watches as Devon Settle (foreground) the Fauquier SPCA Executive Director speaks at a Fauquier District Appeals Committee meeting on June 3rd.
In addition to the dozen of written comments submitted prior to the meeting, ten people spoke at the public hearing ahead of Thursday’s vote. Like those who submitted written comments, all were against an extension of the special permit.
Polly Gault, representative of the Middleburg Humane Foundation, told the board about the foundation’s years of efforts to obtain a special permit for their 23-acre animal shelter in Marshall. The facility can accommodate up to 30 animals at the same time. “We’re not a store in a shopping mall,” said Gault.
The puppy store is located on 5021-A Lee Highway in New Baltimore.
Regarding the May 21 quote from The Puppy’s Shop, she added, “We have a very separate wing for quarantine … and [the quarantined dogs] go to our number of animals ”in the special permit of the foundation.
“It took us years … to get zoning and approval for our new facility,” said Gault, emphasizing that the county staff worked with the foundation to ensure the facility was a safe place for the animals. “We ask you today to make the same requirements for everyone.”
Polly Gault, board member of the Middleburg Humane Foundation, speaks out against The Puppy Shop’s application for a special use permit during a board meeting on June 3rd.
Angie Roeder, managing director of the Washington Area Animal Adoption Group based in Delaplane, argued similarly. The organization’s facility has moved several times, each time requiring a new special permit, she said. “Every time we get our permit, we follow the rules,” she said, arguing that companies that violate the terms of a permit should not be granted an extension.
After a long closed session discussing the legal implications of the issue, the board members returned to the open session and unanimously approved – without further discussion – the resolution to reject Jrab’s motion to serve in Fauquier County on August 6th.
Jrab did not immediately respond to a request for comment after the meeting.