LENOX — Residents seeking a sleep-away camp for their dogs while traveling out of town soon will have a full-service boarding facility off Pittsfield Road.
The operation also aims to serve visitors staying at area inns, hotels and Airbnb rentals who need accommodations for their canine companions.
Berkshire Dogs Unleashed, set to open next month, has the green light from the Zoning Board of Appeals for its location at 439 Pittsfield Road (Route 7/20), a retail complex also housing Papa John’s pizzeria and Electra’s Cafe across from the Holmes Road intersection.
The business, owned by former Pittsfield firefighter Lee Kohlenberger Jr., also will offer canine day care for no more than 10 dogs at a time, training sessions, grooming services available Monday through Saturday, and a boutique selling leashes, collars, toys, beds, treats and some specialty foods.
“Most of the hotels and Airbnbs in the area don’t allow pets,” Kohlenberger said at the ZBA public hearing last week. “We want to offer people who come to the Lenox and Pittsfield area a place to leave their dogs overnight and be able to check them out during the day to enjoy all the outdoors the Berkshires has to offer so they don’t have to leave their four-legged friends at home.”
There will be no selling or breeding of animals at the 2,700-square-foot, remodeled interior space previously occupied by Spartan Fitness at the back side of the building owned by entrepreneur Eric Taylor.
Dogs will be exercised under supervision, two, three or four at a time, in a 3,000-square-foot outdoor play area enclosed by a 6-foot-high chain-link fence on the far west of the property. Dog waste will be removed by VanZandt Portable Toilets, Plumbing & Heating, which is licensed to provide that service, Kohlenberger said, and the play area will be hosed down.
At the meeting, members reviewed and then unanimously approved the special permit site plan filed by Taylor. The commercial zone allows the operation of kennels by right, as long as the plan is scrutinized by the ZBA.
Kohlenberger said that no more than 50 dogs would be housed at the facility at any one time, most likely during the busy summer months. Each dog would have its own “mini-suite,” he said, although canines from the same family could be suite mates in a larger space.
“They would all be caged; it would not be a loose ‘Romper Room’-style setup,” he said.
“The sound inside is very airtight,” Kohlenberger said, adding that he does not foresee a chorus of barking to be audible outside the building.
Kohlenberger and his wife, Kaitlyn, breed and sell standard poodles at their home-based Pittsfield business, Berkshire Poodles.
ZBA member Albert Harper described the environmental impact as minimal, based on his visit to the site. Traffic impact is a nonissue, and adequate parking is available, he added.
“Most importantly, this provides an important service to our hospitality industry, which we so depend upon,” Harper said. “This is a very clever idea, and it will be a benefit to all businesses in the community that rely upon hospitality and people who are traveling with their animals.”