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IRONY OF PET-RESORT IDEA NOT LOST ON CLARENCE OFFICIALS

where the town kennel has failed eight consecutive state sanitation inspections since last fall -- change its image to a Club Med for pets?

The answer is yes, at least according to representatives of a Connecticut-based company looking to bring high-class living to Western New York's dogs and cats in a 12,500-square-foot "pet resort" proposed for Transit Road.

How high-class?

The 198 dog kennels and 37 "cat condominiums" in the facility, proposed by Best Friends Pet Resorts and Salons of Norwalk, Conn., would have lambskin-lined runs. There would be on-site grooming, veterinarian care, and "doggie day-camp" services. Animals would enjoy piped-in Beethoven.

The irony made town officials -- who have been taking the heat for foul conditions cited by the state at the town kennel -- wince.

"Can I leave the dog home and check myself in?" Councilman Thomas Sweeney asked.

Councilman John Love joked that the town would be well advised to look closely at the proposal.

"Maybe we could just take a contract out with this company," he said.

It may seem extreme, but the "resort" concept is the way the pet-care industry is headed, company representative Charles Curtis told board members.

"People today, their pets are like their kids," he said.

So far, Curtis said, Best Friends has opened more than 40 facilities across the country, including in Connecticut and New Jersey. The company has a goal of 250 sites by 2000, he said.

Besides "doggie day camp" and boarding services, the facility would offer grooming, retail sales and obedience training, Curtis said. "We've been successful in bringing boarding and grooming out of the backwoods and onto Main Street," Curtis said. "There are no regulations in the kennel industry. That's one of the largest problems in the kennel industry. . . . A lot of them are substandard.

If the town approves plans for the facility, proposed for construction on the property of the Clarence Mall at 4401 Transit Road, an existing building formerly used as a liquor store would have to be razed, board members said.

Town Board members voted 4 to 0 to send the pet-resort proposal to the Planning Board for further study.

In a related matter, Town Board members announced that the town's new $25,000 kennel, located near the old kennel on the grounds of the Highway Department on Goodrich Road, will have a grand-opening celebration at 11 a.m. Sept. 4.

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