- The Washington Times - Monday, July 2, 2007

VIRGINIA

BLAND

Kennel can rebuild after devastating fire

An Amish family that lost nearly 200 dogs and puppies when a March fire consumed their kennel will be allowed to rebuild but only by meeting requirements intended to prevent another blaze.

Bland County supervisors last week approved a conditional use permit to allow Ivan Schmucker Jr. to rebuild Dogwood Kennels but required a sprinkler system and fire detection equipment in the new building. Mr. Schmucker has said he will use solar power to heat the kennel.

The kennel fire is thought to have been started by a kerosene heater that the family was using to warm a whelping facility for puppies that they breed to sell.

Animal-welfare advocates from across the country have labeled Dogwood Kennels a “puppy mill” and demanded that county officials look closely at a range of issues to ensure the proper care of the animals.

Opponents of mass dog-breeding operations accused the kennel operators of treating companion animals as livestock and using them solely to make a profit for their breeders. The kennel is one of 14 dealers licensed in Virginia to sell to pet stores.

Supporters of the Schmuckers, who are among the 200 Amish people living in Bland and Giles counties, attested to their concern for animals.

Mr. Schmucker had operated his kennel without the county”s required conditional use permit, a detail that came to light when he tried to rebuild. He said he wasn”t aware of the requirement and later applied for the permit.

Other conditions required of the new kennel are a safety evacuation plan, additional space beyond U.S. Department of Agriculture requirements for caged dogs, and access to the kennel for unannounced county inspections.

ALEXANDRIA

Driver found dead; passenger charged

Fairfax County police responded Saturday night to what they thought was a hit-and-run accident; instead, they found a man in the driver”s seat with multiple gunshot wounds.

Todd Rogers, 31, of Manassas Park, was taken to a hospital, where he later died. Police arrested John Bloxham, 41, and charged him with murder.

The crash happened at about 10:30 p.m. in the Beacon Hill area. Police said Mr. Bloxham was riding in Mr. Rogers” car when they began arguing, and Mr. Bloxham pulled out a handgun and shot Mr. Rogers.

Police said Mr. Bloxham fled the scene, and Mr. Rogers” Chevrolet Avalanche crashed into a parked car.

DISTRICT

Bullet kills woman caught in crossfire

A shootout late Saturday night in Southeast resulted in the death of a bystander, police said.

Tiara Monique Merriweather, 24, of Upsall Street Southeast, was shot in the head shortly before midnight. She was taken by a private car to Greater Southeast Community Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Sgt. Joe Gentile said police think that one or two men began shooting at a group of people on the 3500 block of Stanton Road and that someone in the group returned fire. Miss Merriweather apparently was caught in the crossfire.

Police are asking anyone with information to call 202/727-9099.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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