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The Burke County Board of Commissioners has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, June 20, on several amendments to the county’s kennel laws. 

Thanks to the efforts of many local residents, a number of positive amendments have been made to the proposal to address concerns raised with the initial draft of this proposal.  The AKC greatly appreciates that the council was willing to listen to these concerns and make several changes.  However, we remain concerned that those who engage in “boarding, keeping, or caring” for 10 or more dogs or cats over the age of 4 months will likely be required to apply for a conditional use zoning permit and comply with other requirements that may not be possible or feasible if the animals are kept at a private residence. 


Current county law defines a “commercial kennel” as someone who engages in the business of boarding, training, grooming, or breeding more than 6 domesticated animals (defined as “dogs, cats, and other generally accepted household pets”), or someone who “engages in the business” of selling more than one litter of animals at one time. 

Those who met this definition would have to apply for a kennel permit, but exceptions were made for animals that were household pets; kept for hunting or tracking; kept for shows, obedience or field trials; and those kept for protection or guarding. 

Summary of Changes:

The newest proposal would define a “kennel” as any person engaged in “boarding, keeping, or caring for” 10 or more dogs or cats over 4 months of age at one time, or any person selling more than one litter at one time.  This definition includes rescues and other non-profits that receive donations or funding to care for animals.  The exemption remains for those keeping dogs for hunting or tracking, but this is the only exemption.  Exemptions for shows, protection, guarding, etc. have all been removed. 

Anyone meeting this threshold must apply to the zoning board for a kennel “conditional use” permit, which must be approved prior to someone being able to have a kennel on their property.  It is unclear how this requirement would be applied to residential areas. Those obtaining the permit must comply with several regulations, including the following:

  • Ensure buildings and shelters are fully enclosed and at least 100 feet from property lines;
  • Ensure exercise runs are enclosed by a fence and are at least 150 feet from property lines in certain zoning districts;
  • Be subject to inspection during normal county operating hours;
  • Be in full compliance with Article 3 of the North Carolina General Statutes.

The AKC greatly appreciates that many changes have been made, including clarifying that the definition only applies to dogs and cats and not all animals, and outlining exactly what the requirements would be for kennels.  We remain concerned, however, because it could in some cases still include private residents, and could require pet owners to obtain a conditional use permit, relocate, or go under the 10 animal limit before the law goes into effect.  This could also significantly expand the shelter population in the county.  In addition, much of Article 3 of the North Carolina General Statutes regulates pet shops, commercial boarding kennels, and other similar businesses and some portions, such as the state license requirements, do not apply to home-based kennels. 

What You Can Do:

Attend the public hearing on Tuesday, June 20:

Burke County Board of Commissioners – Public Hearing
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
6:00 pm
County Services Building, Commissioners’ Meeting Room
110 N. Green St., Morganton, NC


Contact the members of the Burke County Board of Commissioners prior to Tuesday’s hearing:

Commissioner Jeffrey C. Brittain, P.E. (Chairman)

Commissioner Johnnie Carswell (Vice Chairman)

Commissioner Maynard M. Taylor

Commissioner Wayne F. Abele, Sr.

Commissioner Scott Mulwee

For questions or more information, contact AKC Government Relations at