By DAMIAN MANN
Medford officials say Robert Dudley is barking up the wrong tree in his efforts to open a doggy day care center near other businesses.
“It’s discouraging,” said 46-year-old Dudley, a Medford resident. “I’ve spent about five months looking into the feasibility of doing this, just waiting to get to this point of the city saying yes or no.”
City planning officials say a day care center for dogs should be treated like a kennel, which is required to have a 200-foot setback from other businesses. That’s practically impossible in most commercial centers.
A dog kennel or a baby crying reach a decibel level of 110 — higher than a stereo at maximum volume but still less than a jet engine, according to a city study. From a distance of 200 feet, the decibel level drops to 64, about twice as noisy as light traffic.
The council will examine the issue at a study session at noon today in the Medford Room of City Hall, 411 West Eighth Street.
Dudley said a day care facility, which is common in other metropolitan areas of the state, would generate less noise than a kennel because the dogs would be kept active all day and wouldn’t be confined to cages.
The day care would be available from 6 or 7 a.m. to about 7 p.m., he said. Typical rates range from $16 to $22 a day, with half-day options.
Dudley said he has looked at commercial locations at the south Medford interchange, the north Medford interchange and in the downtown, where there is a high vacancy rate.
Medford Planning Director Jim Huber said the city reviewed Dudley’s request and determined the 200-foot setback was necessary.
He said that other communities in the state don’t have the same setback requirements as Medford.
“But, we also found some with bigger setbacks,” he said.
While Huber’s staff recommends the current setbacks, other options that the council could consider include designating a dog day care center in the same category as dog grooming.
Another option is to create new rules specifically for dog day care. Other possibilities include requiring soundproofing to lessen the noise, or limiting the hours of operation of day care facilities.
Dudley’s request isn’t the first time the issue of a dog day care center has come up in Medford.
K-9 Playtime, which operated for a few years in the city in the early 2000s, was allowed to operate as a dog grooming facility by city officials even though the owners also touted it as a dog day care center.
Justin Crowson, owner of Wag Bend Dog Daycare, said his business is on one of the main streets in Bend and has been open for a year and eight months.
The city decided his day care center was a retail business, not a kennel. He said his business abuts a vacant building on one side, a car wash on the other and faces a supermarket and other retail businesses.
“We have no setback requirements at all,” he said.
Crowson said his dogs generally have free run of the place, where they wrestle and play ball. The dogs do have beds that they take naps on, and if a dog is getting a little crabby, they can be placed in a time-out crate, he said.
Crowson said his first year in business was tough financially when he had five or six dogs a day, but now he’s doubled that.
Barking is a lot less than a kennel, but dogs are dogs.
“They bark a little when they play, and they bark when a new dog comes in,” Crowson said.
The Portland metropolitan area has several dozen dog day care operations, which are primarily in commercial areas, including several in downtown Portland.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.