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Attention turns to dog kennel regulations after fire kills more than 30 pets

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BENZIE COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) — A tragic fire that killed more than 30 dogs at a Muskegon County kennel has some residents in Michigan questioning kennels' regulations and licensing.

According to state law, kennel licensing is regulated at a local level. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) authorizes local animal control officers, chiefs of police, or sheriff’s departments to conduct kennel inspections and sign off on inspection certificates.

In Benzie County, inspections and licensing are done through Animal Control.

“When we head out, there is a list we go off of,” said Kyle Maurer the Director of Benzie County Animal Control. “We check anything from where food is stored, to where cleaning supplies are stored, how the kennels look, enclosures and also the exterior fencing and the bedding.”

Maurer says at this time there are no specific requirements dealing with fire safety equipment.

“We don’t generally look for fire alarms or suppression systems, that’s not really what we’re looking for it’s more or less looking at sanitation you know, wet and dry areas in the kennels,” Maurer said.

Crystal Ridge Kennels is one of the kennels in the county licensed by an inspector with Animal Control. Every year, the kennel is inspected by an officer in order to continue operating.

Bill Spencer, who works at the kennel, says although they have not had any issues, they aren’t taking any chances for something like what happened in Muskegon County to happen at their facility.

“Animals are like people’s family,” Spencer said. "We do have smoke detectors inside and fire extinguishers."

The kennel leaves a small door open for dogs to come and go as they please, even at night; they keep the inside of the building heated.

“[All the dogs] have access to get out of the building,” Spencer said most of the kennels are both outdoor and indoor.

Managers at Crystal Ridge say they also have security systems to monitor any other activity. They say they have been looking into applying for a grant to get a special fire suppression system.

Details are limited as to what caused the fire in Muskegon County, and whether there were fire safety equipment inside the building.

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