Officials: Former kennel owner’s case closed

The case against a former Henry County kennel owner has been closed, according to state and local officials.

Art Washington, who recently paid off thousands of dollars in back property taxes, has paid thousands more in penalties and fines related to unsanitary conditions at his canine-training and boarding facility, in Ellenwood.

The facility, Premier Canine, Inc., is no longer in operation.

State and local officials inspected the kennel facility last summer, when they say they found 61 animals in unsanitary and inhumane conditions.

Washington paid fines of more than $14,000 in Henry County Magistrate Court back in January, related to the poor kennel conditions, according to Vince Farah, animal control supervisor for Henry County Animal Care and Control.

Farah said the former kennel owner was asked to pay the fines, after receiving several citations for “failure to provide care for an animal in a humane manner.”

Washington had been plagued by several other challenges with his business, which was also known as Premier K-9. The business failed to file its 2010 annual registration with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. As a result, on Aug. 19, 2011, Secretary of State Brian Kemp issued a Certificate of Administrative Dissolution/Revocation to the kennel “for failure to file its annual registration.” The company was administratively dissolved.

Henry County officials noted that Washington also failed to pay his occupational tax through the Henry County Tax Commissioner’s Office, dating back to 2009.

Henry County Communications Director Julie Hoover-Ernst confirmed that the boarding facility’s license expired at midnight on Aug. 31, 2011. It was the result of not paying an occupation tax, which is due in order to have the business license renewed.

Washington was asked to pay an additional $273 fine for operating a business without a valid business license, a violation caught by the county’s code enforcement office. Records from the Henry County Tax Commissioner’s Office indicated that more than $22,000 were paid in back property taxes on the Premier Canine, Inc., property on Sept. 13, 2011, for the years between 2009 and 2011.

The boarding facility’s unsanitary conditions prompted the Georgia Department of Agriculture to issue a stop order against Premier Canine, Inc., according to Arty Schronce, director of public affairs for the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Schronce said the stop order was issued in response to violations, including inadequacies in humane care, food and water, sanitation, housekeeping, drainage, waste disposal and record-keeping.

Washington agreed to a monetary penalty of $9,000, of which $6,500 was suspended for a period of one year, upon the condition that no significant violations are found during the one-year probationary period, according to a consent order issued by the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

The former kennel owner also has agreed to random inspections by the department for one year, and to not have “involvement in any licensable activity operating as a kennel, pet dealer, animal shelter or stable.”

With compliance to the aforementioned stipulations, Schronce said, the Georgia Department of Agriculture subsequently has closed its case against Washington.