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Summary of Monday's Novi City Council meeting
Petland owner, corporate official and employees defend their store and brand

March 1, 2017
 


NOVI, MI - The Novi Petland store owner, a corporate official from Ohio and store employees attended the Novi City Council meeting to defend the store and brand, in what has become an ongoing debate over alleged puppy mills and puppy quality of life.

Some in attendance told stories of sick dogs and general allegations about puppy mills and breeders, while others praised the store. It was unclear what if anything Novi's council can or should do about the situation. Of the 13 who spoke about the store, none were Novi residents.

Also on Monday, council approved a $1.8 million project to repave Beck Road from 8 to 9 Mile Roads.

The following is a summary of Monday's Novi City Council meeting:


APPROVAL OF AGENDA: Approved as presented.

PUBLIC HEARING: None

PRESENTATIONS: None

CITY MANAGER/STAFF REPORT: None

ATTORNEY REPORT: None

AUDIENCE COMMENTS:

Amarjit Chawney, 32850 Longbow Ct., Beverly Hills, said he has been here twice in the last month and his comments are similar to what he previously said. He explained how he provided relevant documents to Council, but hasn't heard anything back. He said the problem has been with Mr. Boulard and questioned if there was some sort of bias. He said he has done the punchlist items, but only gets excuses about why the money can’t be returned. He said it's time the money is refunded; it is unprofessional and unbecoming.

Susan Wheeland, 17851 Airport Road, Fraser, said she was here a couple weeks ago with concerns about Petland. She said she filed a police report on February 7th but found out Petland said the dog was sold. She added that the Police said they visited Petland on February 9th and reported the dog was fine. She wants to know what is going on with the dog. She said the reports are conflicting; have they sold the dog, was it ever taken to a vet? She spoke about how she could have taken that dog home and it would've been a detriment to her dog. Why is Petland allowed to sell animals that are sick? She asked why the City is allowing this. This is serious and needs to be looked into. She hopes to hear that an investigation will be brought forward.

Ryan Hamel, 24 E 7th St, Chillicothe, Ohio, was present on behalf of the Petland Headquarters. He said Petland Novi is the most regulated and inspected place to find a puppy in the state of Michigan. He said the health of all Petland puppies is overseen and each puppy is accompanied with a certificate from the vet. He invited the Mayor and Council to come see the store to show how they operate, how they select breeders, and how they support families once they take puppies home.

Randy Horowitz, 1185 West Blvd., Berkley, is the owner of Petland Novi. He said he opened it because he loves pets and explained that the puppies come first. They are leaders in the industry and their mission is to make a difference in the people they serve. He said they send the puppies home with everything they need to live a happy, healthy life. They have been in Novi for 21 years and have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. They have tens of thousands of happy customers. He explained the Privacy Act of 1974 removed the rights on access to breeder information. He said they do a lot in the community, including raising $10,500 for St. Jude. They have sponsored a service dog for a vet with PTSD, donated puppies to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and families in need. He said they would never abuse a puppy. He said there are strict laws they have to adhere to and they have done nothing illegal.

Vechelle Onufrak, 1559 Westfield Road, Trenton, explained she had a terminal ill grandson whose dream and wish was to have a puppy and a cure for his disease. She said her daughter went to Petland and they brought out a puppy that jumped right into her grandsons’ lap. She said Petland gave them the puppy and everything they needed. They never had a problem with the dog. A year later her grandson passed away, and she contacted Petland to explain what they were doing in honor of her grandson. Petland employees wore the t-shirts and posted all over Facebook to support Matthew’s Wish. She said if you have ever witnessed a child who never had happiness or joy, but found happiness in a dog, it was the most positive and grateful experience in her life. She said she supports Petland.

Christopher Caverly, 19383 Inkster, Livonia, said he has worked at Petland for 3 years and has moved up to management. He said his dog is from Petland. He was there the day they made Matthews’ family a little bigger. He said the staff goes out of their way to help people, even if it is just talking to someone about how the store is run, giving advice, or helping find toys. He said the customers aren't top priority, the puppies are. They want to find good homes for those puppies. He said he has been on a breeder trip to see where puppies come from and saw for himself that the puppies are coming from legitimate, credible sources. He said he was sorry that things happen, but is happy he works there and is forever thankful for his employment there.

Alexandria Kelly, 1624 Whittier Dr., Canton, said her family bought a dog from Petland in August 2015. They paid over $3,000 but nine days later, he passed away. She said her family had 2 dog deaths and one family member death in 3 weeks. She said it destroyed her and her family and it has been really hard for her to keep going. She spoke about how the puppies live in cages at Petland. She said if Petland was a safe place for animals, why would there be controversy like this? She wants them shut down. She supports animals finding great homes, but wants the animals to be safe.

Kris Kelly, 1624 Whittier Dr., Canton, said she was Alex's mother. She said prior to Charlie, they rescued animals. She said against her better judgment, they purchased Charlie from Petland. They took him to the VCA because he was immediately sick, but ended up taking him to their local vet to get medicine. She said they love animals and want to see them not purchased from places like that. She said it's a business where they sell dogs and a lot of people who go there have lost a spouse or animal. She said they say their breeders are legitimate, but she would like to see an open door so people can see the breeder’s information. She would like to see them promote the humane society and get into the business of working with the humane society.

Pam Sordyl, 8758 Deerwood Rd., Clarkston, is the founder of Puppy Mill Awareness. She said this is a serious subject for families who are victims. There have been two incidents involving Petland on the news in the past month, and it brings bad attention to Novi. There were hundreds of comments on the news stories, including questions like why are they allowed to sell sick dogs, and why is it still going on. She said she sent an email to the Council members to show the patterns of kennel cough, pneumonia, and other illnesses. She said the store shouldn't accept dogs that are sick from puppy farms. They should not be selling dogs that die; it should not be the cost of doing business. She said families claim they have to threaten to sue or go to media in order to get a response from Petland. She said the store isn’t providing veterinary care and the Police should investigate these claims, instead of treating it as a civil matter.

Melissa Chlebek, 29096 List St., Farmington Hills, said she has worked at Petland for 11 years and it has turned into her career. Her family has taken in 10 dogs over the years, and her first puppy lived 14 years. She said she was fortunate to work in the kennels and on the sales side. She worked as the kennel manager and she said she had a lot of experience with happy and healthy puppies there. She said sometimes the puppies do get sick, but the staff does everything they can to get them happy and healthy. She said she has even taken dogs home to ensure they are ok. She said Petland has been in Novi for over 20 years and they have seen wonderful changes in the breeding world. She said she has been to see the breeders first hand and they always ask what they can improve on. She hopes to continue working there and loves sending a puppy home.

Martin Dugas, a resident of Milan, said he was the father of Matthew Dugas. He spoke about his son and the terminal illnesses he had. When he was diagnosed, they decided to put everything in motion to get him everything he needed. He said they visited Petland who was able to give them the puppy. He said they instantly bonded and fell in love with each other. The puppy helped Matthew get through tough times. Matthew continually got worse, but Petland gave everything they needed, including the puppy. They are grateful and cannot say how much they appreciate Petland for what they've done for them. He said animals get sick and die; it just happens. He said depression ran high in their family, too, because there is nothing like losing a child. They are forever grateful to Petland. He said the owner, Randy, does things for the community by bettering lives and changing them.

Karen Irwin, a resident of Plymouth, said she and her dog do therapy work at Wellbridge in Novi. She was there to speak about the breeders where the puppies come from. She said the puppies are scared after they are transported and removed from their parents. She said the breeders used by Petland have a history of using improper kennels. She said the small dogs are stacked in wire crates and can't see or feel the grass. She said Petland needs to be held responsible because they had had many complaints, including 2 this past month. One was a DNA issue where the person was told the dog was a specific type, but DNA proved it was a different type. She also mentioned the Great Dane story that has been mentioned in the news. She said we could enforce the rules a little better.

Jenelle, a resident of Southfield, said the breeders are often puppy mills and operate for profit. The more puppies they can produce in a small amount of time, the more money they make. She said they may or may not know that the puppies are sick when they send them, but they should know. If they kept the dogs behind to treat them, they wouldn't get the same profit. She said people can adopt dogs or get them from shelters. She said hundreds of dogs are put to death every day. She said it all comes from a for-profit standpoint. You can get a great dog by adopting. She said there was no way to check on all the breeders, they can’t be watched 24/7 so you don't know where the puppies are coming from.

CONSENT AGENDA: APPROVED AS PRESENTED.

A. Approve Minutes of: 1. February 06, 2017 – Regular meeting

B. Enter Executive Session immediately following the regular meeting of February 27, 2017 in the Council Annex for the purpose of discussing labor negotiations, property acquisition and privileged correspondence from legal counsel.

C. Approval of Appointments of student representatives to the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Commission.

D. Approval to award the Ice Arena Evaporative Condenser tower replacement project to Serv-Ice Refrigeration, the low bidder, in the amount of $93,175.

E. Approval of Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.280 to amend the City of Novi Zoning Ordinance at Article 4, “Use Standards,” Section 4.86 “Uses Not Otherwise cell towers Included Within a Specific District,” and Article 2, “Definitions,” Section 2.2 - Definitions, in order to recognize and provide for implementation of State and Federal legislation regarding wireless communication equipment and facilities. SECOND READING

F. Approval of Ordinance No. 17-110.05, amending Chapter 17, Article II, “Historical Commission,” Section 17-17, “Composition,” of the City of Novi Code, in order to add two additional voting members to the Commission, for a total of seven members, to remove the requirement that a member serve on the Novi Historical Society, and to delete the requirement that certain City Administration serve as non-voting members. SECOND READING

G. Approval to award the lowest bid of $97,227.00 to Varsity Ford for the purchase of a 2017 F-550 Swaploader, and the up-fits to be done by Knapheide.

H. Approval to purchase (2) new John Deere HPX All-Terrain Vehicles from Weingartz Supply Co., in the amount of $24,160.90 based on State of Michigan MiDeal Cooperative Purchasing program.

I. Approval of the final payment to Merlo Construction Company for the Eight Mile Pathway (Beck to Garfield Roads) project in the amount of $26,597.23, plus interest earned on retainage.

J. Approval of the final payment to Springline Excavating, LLC for the 14 Mile Pathway and Water Main project in the amount of $14,703.14, plus interest earned on retainage.

K. Approval to award geotechnical services to Testing Engineers and Consultants, Inc. for the Meadowbrook Road Rehabilitation (I-96 to 12 Mile Road) project in the amount of $25,174. The final form of the agreement to be approved by the City Manager and City Attorney’s office.

L. Approval of the final payment to Cross Renovation, Inc. for the Pavilion Shore Park – Restroom Shelter Building project in the amount of $21,822.96, plus interest earned on retainage.

M. Approval of a Storm Drainage Facility Maintenance Easement Agreement from ATI Holdings, LLC for the office building project located west of Meadowbrook Road north of I-96 (parcels 22-14-200-015 and -016).

N. Acceptance of a warranty deed from ATI Holdings, LLC for the dedication of a 60 foot master planned right-of-way half width along the west side of Meadowbrook Road north of I-96 as part of the office building project (parcels 22-14-200-015 and -016).

O. Approval of a Storm Drainage Facility Maintenance Easement Agreement from BK Novi Project, LLC for the One Salon parking lot expansion project located north of Grand River Avenue west of Novi Road (parcel 22-15-476-032).

P. Approval of two Storm Drainage Facility Maintenance Easement Agreements from Haggerty Holdings, LLC for the Autoneum office building project located west of Haggerty Road south of Thirteen Mile Road (parcels 22-12-200-054 and -055).

Q. Adoption of Resolution authorizing cost participation under a Federal Surface Transportation Program grant, and approval of a cost share agreement with the Michigan Department of Transportation (with an estimated allocation of $278,593 paid by Federal grant funds and $1,464,406 to be paid by the City of Novi) for the Beck Road (Eight Mile Road to Nine Mile Road) Rehabilitation project.

R. Approval to purchase a 2018 7400 model single axle chassis from International through the current MiDeal contract in the amount of $89,915.00.

S. Approval of Resolution No. 1 for Special Assessment District 180 - Andes Hills Condominium Water Main Extension, authorizing the preparation of plans, specifications and cost estimate.

T. Approval to authorize ICS Integration Services LLC to purchase and install replacement modems at the City’s twenty-two monitoring locations within the City’s sanitary sewer system, in the amount of $28,094.

U. Approval of Claims and Accounts – Warrant No. 982 MATTERS FOR COUNCIL ACTION

1. Approval to award a unit price Water Service Connections Contract to D&D Water & Sewer, Inc., the low bidder, for a term of one year with three 1-year renewal options for an estimated annual amount of $150,000. APPROVED

2. Approval of the request of Commerce Park, JSP 17-02, for Zoning Map Amendment 18.716 to rezone property in Section 16, located on the southwest corner of Twelve Mile Road and Taft Road from RA (Residential Acreage) to OST (Planned Office Service Technology). The subject parcel is approximately 30.64 acres. FIRST READING APPROVED

3. Appointments to Boards and Commissions

Library Board – Datara Michener, Geoffrey Wood
Beautification Commission – Celia Todd Construction
Board of Appeals – Jeffrey Bowdell, John Enkemann, Kamran Qadeer (alternate)

AUDIENCE COMMENTS: None

COMMITTEE REPORTS: None

MAYOR & COUNCIL ISSUES: None