Braveheart Rescue forced to close by township boardBy July 17, Braveheart Rescue Inc. will have to shut its doors as a dog rescue. The rescue, which opened about three years ago just a few miles south of Hastings in Marshan Township, was ordered to close by the Marshan Town Board at its April 17 meeting because owner Brandi Tracy did not have a valid permit.
By: Katrina Styx, The Hastings Star-Gazette
By July 17, Braveheart Rescue Inc. will have shut its doors as a dog rescue. The rescue, which opened about three years ago just a few miles south of Hastings in Marshan Township, was ordered to close by the Marshan Town Board at its April 17 meeting because owner Brandi Tracy did not have a valid permit.
The issue first came before the township board late last year, when two Siberian Huskies got loose from Braveheart. The incident earned the rescue some attention when the volunteer who recovered the animals refused to return one, claiming Braveheart had abandoned it and accusing Tracy of operating her organization illegally.
“That was when we kind of became aware,” said Marjory Snyder, Marshan Township clerk.
Before then, the township board didn’t know that Tracy was running a rescue, Snyder said. Tracy had a permit for a dog boarding kennel, and a sign at the end of the property’s driveway still reads “Brandi’s Boarding Kennel.”
At its April meeting, the board voted unanimously to rescind Tracy’s boarding kennel permit, since the kennel is not being run as the permit says.
“She didn’t have a permit to do what she’s doing,” Snyder said.
“She went totally against our rules and regulations,” said Jerry Bauer, chairman of the board.
“We didn’t ask for this by no means,” he said. “She’s the one who brought this on herself.”
Besides the permit issue, Snyder said Marshan Township doesn’t have an ordinance that allows rescues to operate there. Tracy requested the board create an ordinance that would allow her to continue, but board members opted not to.
“If you do create an ordinance for a rescue, you’re opening that up to anybody that comes into the township,” Bauer said.
With the Animal Ark shelter just a few miles north in Hastings, Bauer said the board doesn’t have much interest in allowing rescues in Marshan Township.
Board members have also heard of a couple incidents at Braveheart, including the escaped dogs. Another woman spoke at the April meeting, claiming a “wolf hybrid” at Braveheart attacked a lab puppy while she was at the rescue.
Although there weren’t many incidents reported, Snyder said, it was enough to make the board decide not to pursue an ordinance that would allow Braveheart to continue.
“Because of things that have happened lately, the board wasn’t real happy,” she said.
On May 20, Tracy sent an email to Braveheart contacts asking for help.
“Marshan Township where we are located has decided that because there isn’t an ordinance for a dog rescue in Marshan Township, Braveheart Rescue must close. Despite my appearing at two meetings with the Board to explain our mission and request an ordinance allowing us to stay, the board is unwilling to allow any dog rescues in this township,” Tracy wrote.
“Now I have a time limit imposed by the board to rehome all the Braveheart dogs — on July 17th the authorities will be here to inspect our property to ensure that only my four personal dogs are on the property. There is no consideration for the sanctuary dogs who have made Braveheart Rescue their permanent home. These are unadoptable dogs who will have nowhere to go if Braveheart Rescue is forced to shut down.”
The email continued to ask supporters to contact the Marshan Township Board, adopt the remaining dogs and donate funds for the animals’ care and to hire an attorney to help with the issue.
Tracy did not respond to multiple phone calls for comment.
If there are still dogs left at Braveheart after July 17, Bauer said it will fall to the township’s attorney and law enforcement officer to determine what will happen to the animals. It’s still early in the process, though, so no formal decision has been made yet about any potential remaining dogs.
Bauer said that Tracy’s boarding kennel permit is still in effect.
“If she wants to have a dog kennel, it can go on, but not a dog rescue,” he said.