Aberdeen Board Members Tour Dog-Training Facility
A fact-finding trip to a dog-training facility gave members of the Town Board a better idea of what K2 Solutions Inc. hopes to establish in Aberdeen.
Commissioner Pat Ann McMurray and Mayor Pro Tem Robert Farrell toured the Scotland County facility Monday morning, along with Town Manager Bill Zell and Planning Director Kathy Liles.
K2 Solutions, based in Southern Pines, has been leasing a private kennel for its current operations until it can set up shop on its own property. The company is looking at a site on N.C. 211 that is zoned heavy industrial.
Though Lane Kjellsen, founder and president of K2 Solutions, is asking for significantly more property in Aberdeen, he is currently training 130 dogs on five acres bordering a residential area.
The trip was originally scheduled as a specially called meeting that involved three board members. The third commissioner decided not to tour the facility, so it was not considered to be a public meeting.
Zell and Liles were impressed by the efficiency and cleanliness of the facility.
"It's the cleanest kennel I've ever been in," Liles said.
Zell also added that the noise of dogs barking was no more of an issue at the facility than trains going through town or the sounds of detonations coming from Fort Bragg. The dogs respond to commands to be quiet immediately.
The facility has about 40 employees who specialize in different aspects of the training and maintenance of the dogs.
"It's a tremendous operation," Zell said.
Zell also commented on the obedience of the dogs and the training process that they go through for eight hours a day.
The dogs respond to visual signals given by the trainer. No sound is exchanged between the trainer and dog during the exercise. The dogs are trained to lie down when they locate an explosive, and they are given a rubber toy to play with as a reward for finding the explosive.
The dogs also train for infantry marches that would require them to run between eight and nine miles per hour for 40 minutes while scenting for explosives.
The dogs run on treadmills while tracing a scent that varies in position from the ground to above the dog's head.
Zell said that when the dogs are done for the day, they just go back into their kennels on command.
"These dogs are obviously high-tech dogs," Zell said.
Kjellsen told the Town Board at its Oct. 12 meeting that K2 Solutions pays $5,500 for each dog to enter the program. This cost excludes transportation of the dogs, veterinary services and the time spent training them.
Overall, Zell and Liles thought the tour gave the board members a clearer picture of what activities would go on in Aberdeen if the board approves a change in the zoning ordinance to allow a dog-training facility in an area zoned for heavy industrial.
"I think they got a good look," Zell said.
Zell said he particularly likes that K2 Solutions is contracting directly with the military, and he sees the potential to bring more military contracts to the area with this operation. He said he also likes that K2 Solutions is a local company wanting to expand in Moore County.
Both Liles and Zell see the project as a potential contributor to tax revenues with more people coming to the area and living in Aberdeen for the training.
"They've been recruiting trainers from all over the country," Liles said.
The main question the board has to consider is whether or not a kennel, itself, will be a good fit in the heavy industrial zone. The board is especially concerned about what types of kennels the amendment would allow because parts of Aberdeen's downtown are zoned heavy industrial.
"Is the next kennel going to be as good as the one they run?" Zell said. "It has to work for the town. That's our concern."
If the board approves an amendment to the zoning ordinance, it would be narrowly tailored to allow a facility like the one K2 Solutions is proposing, but it would also protect the downtown.
K2 Solutions wants to act quickly on the property because it is under contract with the U.S. Marine Corps to train 112 Labrador retrievers for special operations by December.
The company lost a lot of time on the project in its failed negotiations with Moore County over potential property in Vass.
"As far as them coming, that's in their ballpark," Zell said. "They need to find a place that works for them too."
At its next meeting, the board will discuss the wording of the proposed text amendment.
Hannah Sharpe can be reached at (910) 693-2485.
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