The purpose of the park is “to attract happy, friendly dogs and happy, friendly dog owners, and we evaluate every dog that comes to the park, and if that dog has a poor disposition, we don’t want that dog, we don’t want that person.”
That was Dave Rickert, owner and operator of the Sunset Ranch Bark Park, speaking at a public hearing at the Texas Township meeting on June 17. Rickert has applied for a conditional use permit, which would allow him to build a 50-foot by 200-foot building which would hold a kennel for up to 40 dogs.
The bark park is located on a 105-acre property with five miles of manicured trails that are open to members and their canines. Dog owners are charged $10 to take advantage of the park for a day or $50 for a month. There is a two-acre fenced area near the center of the property where dogs can play off the leash.
The proposed addition would allow the facility to board up to 40 dogs, and would include an indoor therapy pool, and an indoor play area. Rickert said his plans include having a veterinarian live at the facility. He and his wife Natalie also plan to move to the ranch.
One of Rickert’s neighbors, Jim Hegge, raised concerns about the noise that the dogs might make.
Rickert said, “I would say that the dogs that visit the park make less noise than any of the surrounding farms.” Texas Township zoning requires that kennels be located no closer than 125 feet to the nearest house. Rickert said his kennel would be located more than 3,000 feet from the nearest house.
Supervisor Don Doney said that some conditions would be placed on the permit to protect Rickert’s neighbors on Bear Swamp Road in case the property was ever sold to another operator. One requirement might be that a person must be on the premises at all times, and another might deal with the disposal of dog waste.
The supervisors have 45 days to make a decision on the matter.
Firefighters Cancer Presumption Act
In other news, Jeffrey Kyle of DGK Insurance and Financial Services reviewed the insurance policy of the township. The cost of workers compensation insurance is jumping from $10,051 last year to $13,693 this year. The reason for the increase is because of the Firefighters Cancer Presumption Act which was passed in Pennsylvania in 2011.
Kyle said, “If a firefighter contracts cancer and they can show that within the previous 600 weeks, or 12 years, that they were exposed to class-one carcinogens—and when they go out to any kind of structure fire that’s what they are exposed to—the presumption is that the cancer was caused by the firefighting duties.”
He said that many states have similar laws, but the Pennsylvania law applies for any form of cancer, which has driven the cost of worker’s compensation insurance higher for firefighters, and under state law, municipalities must pay for workers compensation for firefighters.