Dog training business to use old gas station property

Staff Writer
I cover the cities of Andover, Blaine and Ramsey. I have worked at ABC Newspapers since August 2007.

An abandoned, dilapidated convenience store in Andover has a end user in sight.

Owners of a canine obedience training business received approval from the Andover City Council to renovate and occupy this former convenience store property at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Valley Drive. File photo
Owners of a canine obedience training business received approval from the Andover City Council to renovate and occupy this former convenience store property at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Valley Drive. File photo

Pack Leader Behavior and Training will be moving to 15825 Seventh Ave. NW, which is on the southwest corner of Seventh Avenue and Valley Drive. This property was last used by a Quick Stop gas station.

Joann Neve started offering in-home canine training 10 years ago. In 2012, she opened up at 3131 161st Ave. NW in a spot formerly occupied by Andover Liquor.

Neve offers behavior obedience training for dogs but does not provide any boarding services. The classes happen indoors.

Neve said 77 percent of all bites are from dogs people know. Mistakes are made because they don’t understand that the dog is upset.

“You deal with what’s causing the growling, not the growling itself,” she said. “It’s not necessarily training the dog. It’s communication and education for the owner.”

Neve said she does certify service dogs that go into nursing homes and hospitals. She currently does not do any dog agility training but said this larger property than her last one allows the space.

In addition to repairing the building, the parking lot will also be re-paved.

“I’m really happy that something is going into that space. As it is right now the building doesn’t look that desirable,” Council Member Val Holthus said.

Neve had a couple of supporters speak at the Aug. 15 Andover City Council meeting before her application for a conditional use permit was unanimously approved.

Michele Smith works for Ruff Start Rescue. She said Neve was very helpful with a “hyper” dog that Smith brought to her training course a couple of months ago. She said many of the dogs the business sees have limited training so businesses like the one Neve operates are important.

Polly Hanssen’s 5-month-old German Shepherd has been trained by Neve.

“Attending Joann’s classes is truly a behavioral education for humans as much as the dog’s,” she said.

Hanssen lives in the neighborhood east of Pack Leader’s new location. She noted she already hears barking dogs in the neighborhood, so would not want Neve blamed for every barking dog if there are new complaints.

“So if there’s a complaint about dogs barking it’s not necessarily Joann’s dogs. It could be neighborhood dogs,” she said.

One issue that garnered some discussion was closing time. The Andover Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended a closing time of 9:30 p.m. Neve asked if the time limit could extend to 10 p.m. in case she has a second evening class that runs late. She said most her classes are on the evenings and weekends.

Council Member Sheri Bukkila’s motion that the whole council approved had no restriction on hours of operation. Community Development Director Joe Janish had pointed out that this business is located within the Neighborhood Business zoning district, which has no general hours restrictions.

Bukkila said the city has a noise ordinance that can be enforced if there are complaints.

Robert Whitcraft, a resident, still questioned why the council would remove a restriction that the planning commission recommended after holding a public hearing.

One of Robert and Faith Whitcraft’s points raised in a letter was that the property had become a community dump site and was blighted and that the city should have done more to prevent this from happening.

“We’re delighted to have a responsible business owner move into what has been a derelict property,” Robert Whitcraft said.

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