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11/26/2012 6:01:00 AM
Animal sanctuary, Mohave County at odds again
Allison missed deadline to get permit for sanctuary
Hillarie Allison and friend.
Hillarie Allison and friend.

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

Hillarie Allison, the owner of Rescue Unwanted Furry Friends Foundation, is once again refusing to bring her animal sanctuary into compliance with county ordinances.

She and the Mohave County Civil Attorney's Office have been battling over getting the proper health and zoning use permits for the animal sanctuary for more than two years.

The most recent legal salvo came on Oct. 31, when Allison filed for an exception in court to the county's requirement that she install sand in all of RUFFF's kennels. The request came one day before a Nov. 1 court-ordered deadline that the animal sanctuary be in compliance with all of the county's kennel ordinances.

The county filed for a temporary injunction against RUFFF in March 2010 in order to force Allison into compliance with the county's kennel ordinances. It required her to get a valid zoning use permit for a kennel and a health permit.

"Now, she's presented an affidavit from someone who hasn't even physically visited the facility that sand is bad for the dogs," said Dolores Milkie, a civil attorney for Mohave County. "We made an allowance for her to use sand. She's the only sanctuary in the county who is not in compliance. All we are trying to do is get her to comply with the law."

In order to get the permits, Allison had to make several changes, including reducing the number of animals on the property, ensuring every animal had access to an enclosure so they could get out of inclement weather, providing plenty of fresh water and food for each animal and socialization time for each animal, making sure that each animal can be matched with its medical records, securing each run so animals can't get out and replacing the natural soil floor of the kennels with sand.

After working with Allison for more than a year, the county filed in court for a permanent injunction that would have closed RUFFF in October 2011.

Today, Allison has met all of the county's requirements except one - she still doesn't have a health permit.

The reason she hasn't gotten the permit is because the county and Allison disagree on what materials should be used for flooring in a dog kennel.

Floor dispute

Allison favors the natural soil of Golden Valley.

County officials say the ordinances require a "durable material", such as concrete, that can be easily sanitized, but agreed to allow Allison to use sand.

"What's more durable than the natural soil?" Allison asked.

She said she never agreed to use sand for her kennels. She was going to try the sand and sent samples of material to the health department to get an idea of what they wanted. But when she contacted her veterinarians again about the situation, they recommended against using sand because it can cause breathing and eating problems for animals.

"I'm not going to do something that's unhealthy for the animals." Allison said.

The county has countered Alison's argument in court, saying that sand is easier to clean and replace than dirt.

If the court closes RUFFF, Milkie said the county would not destroy all of the animals on the property.

Every adoptable animal would be put up for adoption, she said. Sick animals that needed to be treated would be treated and those that needed to be euthanized would be euthanized.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, December 9, 2012
Article comment by: Lorin McCann

Over the years I see the county thinks the rescues are made of money. All operate in the red most of the time. They only get money from people who are willing to donate. Nothing comes from any government agency.
I have seen the county demand things that are impossible for the rescues to do without ever going out and looking at the rescues. I have seen this with business also. I have worked with many of the rescues and seen how they operate. Most do a decent job of caring for the animals. Most work very hard to survive in today's economy. It is a 24 hour 7 days a week job. The owners are lucky to get off a day or two during the year.
If people do not like the rules the county makes, show up at the meetings. Voice your dislike. You can also donate your time and money in helping the rescues. They all need volunteers. They all can use any kind of help you can give. Like picking up poop, yard work, electrical, plumbing, tractor work, carpenter work, fencing, you name it.

Posted: Friday, December 7, 2012
Article comment by: Terry W

I've never seen anything as ridiculous as the county requiring dogs in a sanctuary live on sand in the DESERT! What type of "soil" does desert have? A mixture of sand/pebbles. Is the county going to require ALL residents to put sand in their back yards too? If not, why not? If it's going to be required for one place that keeps dogs, why not all? Is this total ridiculousness what we taxpayers are paying for our county government for? Hey County, take a look at the pens and soil in this video - - if it's good enough for the Dog Whisperer and National Geographic, it should be good enough for Mohave County. Stop this stupidity!!! Find something more important to do with your time and our money than harass this one animal sanctuary.

Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Article comment by: Why Kill RUFFF's Critters

I've lived here in Mohave County now going on nearly 30 years - and I'm not blind.....I know what plain ole ordinary Mohave County dirt looks like !!

Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Article comment by: Cherie DaLynn

Response to some comments made: I never said 'grandfathered in' to the reporter. I said all fully permitted rescues/sanctuaries would be 'exempt' from new changes in ordinance. That is clearly stated in the ordinance. The only person who has said anything about 'grandfathering in' is HA in a public meeting when she said all the other rescues were grandfathered in. Not true.
I have never said FLP's way is the only way. All rescues have different ways of doing the same thing. We choose to use washed sand, which is NOT dirty, does not blow in the wind, dogs are not standing in water or mud when it rains, and it provides cushion and support for the dog's body when lying on it.
I never said that there was odor at Rufff. I said we had experience with odor when the dogs were on dirt, which was the reason for going to sand.
As stated by 'more info', matter of public record that all the other rescues are fully permitted.
FLP is NOT in competition with any other rescue. This is not a zero sum game, where if one gets something, another doesn't. Nor is there any 'personal ill-feelings' here. That excuse doesn't wash. But if one has to do certain things, all should have to.
5 years is not enough time to know that our dogs are not suffering from or not showing ANY signs of sand ingestion? So how long before dogs start showing ill effects of bleach being poured on their 'dirt' day after day?
In response to 'Why Kill', no sand in our kennels, perhaps you would like to volunteer your time to come out and help us move our next delivery of 30 tons of sand in a couple of weeks? Obviously, you think it should look like beach sand. It doesn't. And, yes, it does cost money, but we are here to provide care and comfort to these animals, no matter the cost.

Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2012
Article comment by: More Info

@ Concerned Citizen

The Environmental Health Supervisor filed an Affidavit in Superior Court stating that all rescues are permitted, except RUFFF, so you don't have to go to each rescue to know.

@ Why Kill RUFFF's Critters

Bedding sand does not look like beach sand or natural desert sand therefore, you likely didn't recognize the type of sand at For the Luv of Paws.

Posted: Saturday, December 1, 2012
Article comment by: Bedding Sand

@Wrong About Bedding Sand

You should take your own advice:

Thanks, and be nice!

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: Why Kill RUFFF's Critters

A few simple logical questions to Milkie and the County:

(1) Why should you even be concerned if dogs are walking or laying or jumping or playing as God intended, on natural DIRT ??!!?? as long as they are healthy and socialized, fed and watered properly, protected from the weather, spayed, neutered, are not neglected or abused -and in a safe loving environment until they're adopted, or if "unadoptable", until they die a natural death?

Question #2: Don't you feel the least bit guilty and ashamed, for threatening and desiring to kill RUFFF's dogs over stupid lousy insignificant SAND?!? - when, according to you, RUFFF has complied with every other stipulation to obtain her permit, except for SAND??!!?

Question #3: Don't you feel the least bit embarrassed that Mohave County is a laughing stock because of your obsession and vindictiveness of RUFFF and SAND??!!??

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: Wrong About Bedding Sand

@ Bedding Sand - your information is incorrect. Bedding Sand is actually Micro-crushed agragate(MA). It is unwashed (dirty) so contains all the particles not found in "regular" sand. Even the sand contractors recommending against using "Bedding Sand" and told Hillarie they wouldn't use it for their own dogs! What they recommended was turned down by the Mohave Co. Health Dept, as were several other samples of materials submitted by Hillarie.- go figure! Bedding Sand is used to create a smooth surface to lay tile or travertine so that it doesn't move when being placed and before grouting.

If you're going to make a statement, it's probably best to know what you're talking about first.

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: Bedding Sand

Bedding sand is different than natural sand. It's sort of a 'manufactured' sand with little to no organic material. That's why it's used in animal husbandry. It's easy to remove feces from, and it filters urine before it hits the natural soil, which is full of organic matter and, therefore, harbors bacteria. That's why natural soil is not good for critters that pretty much stay in one area. Bedding sand is cool and doesn't blow around like natural sand.

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Why Kill RUFFF's Critters

Love of Paws, a very nice Rescue, may have been using sand for years, but last summer, I saw no sand in her outdoor kennels - which by the way, are just fancier than RUFFF's, not any bigger.

Five different Veterinarians who advised against using sand are more believable than someone who sadly seems to harbor personal ill-feelings towards Hillarie and is "in competition" with RUFFF's donations. Federal law allows good ole natural dirt!...dirt should be allowed for outdoor kennels.

RUFFFF does NOT stink! My and many other peoples' noses have been surprised at how odor-free RUFFF is with so many kennels and dogs. RUFFF controls odors simply by spraying bleach on urine and picking-up poop on a daily basis....from dirt, which is so much easier to keep clean and odor free than sand.

RUFFF has alot more square footage of kennels than Love of Paws. In reaction to Cherie's disclaimer, RUFFF asked the contractor to confirm his quote - $11,000-2 inches, $15,000-3 inches....oh, all the feed and medical bills this wasted sand money would cover!

Cherie said: "None (of the other rescues) have been grandfathered in on anything."....but in 12 November Miner's article, she said: Sanctuaries that had current health and zoning permits, would have been grandfathered in..! If sand is to be a requirement for kenneled dogs, than no Rescue should be grandfathered in....ALL Rescues should be made to adhere to whatever new rules are decided!!

It's obvious that Hillarie/RUFFF is being harassed and singled-out by the County - any Rescue could be next on the chopping block - all the more reason for all Rescues to join forces in RUFFF's fight for the lives and welfare of her dogs.

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: V Stokes

Well....I just have to say something.

I have "sand" (though I thought I was getting topsoil as I knew it) on the side and back of my yard. It's pretty coarse but porous and it doesn't blow or move in 60MPH gusts. Two 10 ton truck loads were what they brought along with one truck of coarser stuff for the first fill load. This is not play sand. Closer to what you would find actually walking in the desert. Somehow I doubt this product would be a problem for animals as Ms Dalynn stated.

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Concerned Citizen

Cherie, sand can take a long time to build up in the intestines of an animal and cause a blockage. You may not know it is happening until it is too late. If five different veterinarians recommend against it, they probably know what they are talking about.
Regarding “stench”, I have been to RUFFF. There is minimal odor. There is more odor at a zoo than there is from RUFFF. Yet, zoos have far more land and the population of animals is not as dense, since “natural habitat” enclosures include more space per animal than a typical sanctuary provides. Also, I can assure you that sand DOES blow around in the wind. We have tremendous sand storms at our ranch, and we are not in Golden Valley, where the ground is more level and the winds can go “sweeping across the landscape”.
Also, covering five acres with three inches of sand, could easily cost $15,000/yr. But, even $5400/yr is a LOT of money. Our sanctuary could never afford that. You got tired of “being told that FLP's way of doing things was wrong by those who think their way is the only way”, but that works both ways. Because one way works for your sanctuary, does not mean it is works for other sanctuaries. There is no one correct way. As for “all other sanctuaries are in compliance and none have been grandfathered on anything”, unless you have personally visited every other sanctuary, you really can’t make this statement. I have not been to your sanctuary, so I have to take you word for whether you have three inches of sand in every dog pen or whether this actually controls “the stench”. Nor have I visited every other sanctuary to know if they are in compliance. But, I can say I have been to RUFFF and they do comply with the 2007 Ordinance. Sand isn’t required by that ordinance.

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Cherie DaLynn

A few comments on this never-ending saga: (1) For the Luv of Paws has been using sand for about five years now. We have NEVER had one problem with our dogs ingesting sand. It IS cool in the summer, warm in winter. It does not stick to their paws. When it rains, our dogs are not standing in water or mud as they would be on plain dirt. Not to mention the stench that comes from dogs urinating in their pens on plain dirt. No amount of bleach can take that odor out of the dirt. It does not blow around in the wind either.
We use 60 tons a year at a cost of $1800. Because our kennels are configured differently than Rufff's, the area we have to cover is probably a third of Rufff's area, which means that their cost would probably run about $5400 a year. Rufff would have to put down 500 tons a year to cost $15,000.
Don't think so. (2) I do not complain or whine at P&Z or BOS meetings. I discuss different things the members are interested in and then I ask for the portable toilets, sand, three year permit, etc. Any other rescue can do the same.
(3) I WAS present at meetings on the ordinance and I did participate until I got tired of being told that FLP's way of doing things was wrong by certain parties who think their way is the only way. (4) When I founded this rescue, I went into it knowing the rules and regulations and this organization has adhered to them. I did not begin this endeavor thinking I would just do it my way and then fight the authorities for years so we didn't have to comply. All the other rescues are in compliance and fully permitted also. None have been grandfathered in on anything.

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Article comment by: Golden Valley Resident

As I see it Mohave County just likes to waste tax payers money. I personally think Hillary needs to sue the county for harrassment, slander and whatever else she can think of. She is in compliance and the county wants to make her do things that there are no laws for. They tried to get her to be in compliance with a law that we DEFEATED. There is nothing on the books that says sand needs to be down. Milkie should be sued also for her remarks. Give RUFFF their permits.

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Article comment by: Judy Green

RUFFF has requested no financial help from Mohave County yet they are determined to hound (no pun intended) Hillarie. Yes the county says they will adopt out the adoptable animals however, many of RUFFF's aminals are blind, deaf, crippled or just plain old, in other words not adoptable. Hillarie provides not only a safe and loving place for these aminals she also provides all necessary medical needs. Our local governments does not do the same for people, yet here again they are sticking their nose in a place where it does not belong. We have real problems PLEASE leave RUFFF's alone .

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Article comment by: Frederick Williams

OK so she puts in concrete like the county wants her to do. The animals poop and pee on the concrete, then what happens? Well she would do like everyone else that has concrete, they hose it down and let it run onto the ground, and what is the ground? It is the earth that is there now. So, why the concrete if the poop and pee are going to wind up on the ground anyway?

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Article comment by: Take a Look

Are the animals in other complying sanctuaries dying from sand ingestion? If not why not take a look at their flooring. Surely they don't all use concrete. All this money wasted on legal bills could have bought tons of food and exercise runs. The lack of those are also an issue. I can't see how just one person with a handful of volunteers (if that) can adequately take care of hundreds of animals. I spend a fortune on just a handful of dogs in Veterinary care, healthy food and as needed supplements. The time involved equates to a number of hours a day.Not to forget grooming. How can all that be done adequately on hundreds of animals. It just seems mind boggling.

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Article comment by: Web Dawg

If the county had to MAKE HER do the following she should be shut down for not caring about the animals in the first place.

1. reducing the number of animals on the property,

2. ensuring every animal had access to an enclosure so they could get out of inclement weather,

3.providing plenty of fresh water and food for each animal

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012
Article comment by: Why Kill RUFFF's Critters?

No one has to "physically visit" RUFFF to know that sand is dangerous, gets ingested and causes impaction in dogs. Gravel gets too hot and painful to walk/lay on - same with concrete. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't have a clue about keeping animals - as obviously the county does not. Milkie is basically saying that it's better to kill the dogs than let them walk/lay on dirt - as nature intended!

Milkie foolishly claims sand is easier to clean than dirt. What can be more easier than pickin-up poop from dirt and spraying bleach on urine spots? Sand would only benefit a contractor - 3 inches, $15,000 every 6 months.

The 2007 Animal Ordinance Page 5, Section 90: Animal Housing: A. Reads: Interior and exterior kennel and pet shop CAGES....shall be constructed of durable materials..." no mention of FLOORING. Federal law allows dirt - dirt should be approved for RUFFF.

Two other local popular rescues don't have one sticken grain of sand in their outdoor dirt kennels - why are they exempt from this sand ruling?

Milkie said, "the county would not destroy all of the animals on the property" - they'll be hauled into the Dog Pound and killed there, where euthanasia numbers are higher than adoptions! "Sick animals...would be treated" - RUFFF's dogs are not sick, they're healthy, spayed and neutered! "Every adoptable animal would be put up for adoption" - what is un-adoptable?...6 years, 14 years old, blind, deaf, 3-legged? And who will play God in choosing the unfortunate dogs who "need" to be euthanized?

If "durable material" is the only reason preventing RUFFF's permit, shame on the county for being so cruelly non-compassionate -and shame on those supporting the closure of RUFFF and the deaths of these innocent critters!

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012
Article comment by: RUFFF Supporter

This is an absolute travesty of justice. ALL the RUFFF animals have shelter (houses) and always HAVE ! ALL THE ANIMALS HAVE GOOD, CLEAN WATER and FRESH food and ALWAYS have! I have known Ms. Allison for many years and KNOW, without a doubt, how she cares for the animals entrusted to her. My husband and I have visited the sanctuary, so I've seen this for myself.

Ms. Allison doesn't think she is above the law. She's tried repeatedly to come into compliance but puts the animals' welfare first. She's brought in a number of veterinarians and scientists to consult on the best care for the animals. I guess the County Attorney knows more than a combined 200 years of animal care professionals as to what's best for the animals!

All you naysayers are responding to an article or two in this paper and don't really know what's transpired. I'm tired of all the bad press RUFFF and Ms. Allison have received. I know what really happens with RUFFF, what Ms. Allison has done to accomodate the County. And all this at Taxpayer's expense! Leave RUFFF and Ms. Allison alone. Better yet, support her efforts to save and care for Mohave County's discarded animals. Don't let evil and greed kill these lovely animals and charge Mohave County Taxpayers, for it!

Mohave County should put their efforts towards implementing a County subsidized Spay/Neuter program to help stop the killing at municipal shelters. After all, they have all our Property Tax money to accomplish the above task! Leave the Sanctuaries/Rescues alone. I applaud you Hillarie Allison for being the wonderful caretaker you are with all the animals by getting them spayed/neutered, plus seeking medical attention for the animals all at your expense.

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012
Article comment by: And More Info

I'm surprised that myth of a catch 22 between P&Z and the Health Dept still exists. RUFFF was given a P&Z permit contingent up getting a health permit. The Judge ordered that the health permit be in place by November 1, 2012. The BOS said the P&Z permit was in effect until RUFFF got the court-ordered health permit. Now that there is no health permit, I would suspect that the P&Z permit is void. The issue of flooring has already been adjuciated. Judge Jantzen found that plain dirt was not acceptable. RUFFF is just using stalling tactics. Ask yourself - why is RUFFF solicitating donations for bedding sand while having no intention of keeping the agreement with the County? Why is RUFFF not an IRS-designated 501(c)(3) charity? No, you don't have to be one to solicit donations, but why wouldn't you? You have a some assurance that you donations are going to a charity, and your donors receive a tax credit for donating. Why wouldn't you offer that? RUFFF had one at one time. What happened? Revoked for lack of reporting. By the way, check out bedding sand. It's common in animal husbandry. And finally, all the other rescue/sanctuaries are fully permitted. Hmm.

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012
Article comment by: More Info

@ Rachel T.
Yes, the ordinance was voted down. That left the current ordinance in place, which requires durable flooring. You're speaking as though there is no ordinance at all, but that isn't so. The current ordinance requires durable flooring. Judge Jantzen has already ordered that plain dirt is not acceptable, and HA and the County should come to an agreement about what is. HA agreed to bedding sand and solicitated $15,000 in donations to accomplish that, which is about three times more that it would actually cost. Research bedding sand - it's being used in animal husbandry. This is not the desert sand that blows around here causes dust devils. It's a bigger grain and does not drift as other sand. When HA failed to suck in $15,000, she now says she didn't agree to bedding sand. Really? So you defied a court order?

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012
Article comment by: Heres to one Trying to help out the ANIMALS

Hillarie took in ALL the UNWANTED ANIMALS & is doing her best to KEEP THEM ALIVE, she is NOT a kennel where she gets PAID for caring for them. Geez people (including the county) leave her be for crying out loud!

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012
Article comment by: tj denton

cynthia, why should the county or courts help her in her private endeavors? its her responsibility. why does everyone think that they deserve handouts these days? and anson, you are correct, we have wasted too much tax dollars on this woman, shut her down. problem solved.

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012
Article comment by: WATCH DOG !

This woman thinks she doesn't have to follow the rules...why is it that she has to go out of state to find professionals to back her up...who have never been to her place...she doesn't have local professional back-up. All the other rescues have no problem being in complience. She has boo-booed that the county is going to kill all her animals when in fact they have have tried working with her to find placement for all that are adoptable and those who can go to other rescues...shut her down! Enough is enough.

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