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Doggie doors to close at Calgrove Kennels

Profile: Newhall canine vacation home shuts down after 40 years of service

Posted: April 5, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 5, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Packer, a Labrador retriever, plays at Calgrove Kennels in Newhall on Monday. Calgrove Kennels is scheduled to close on June 1 due to concerns about health and bureaucracy. Packer, a Labrador retriever, plays at Calgrove Kennels in Newhall on Monday. Calgrove Kennels is scheduled to close on June 1 due to concerns about health and bureaucracy.
Packer, a Labrador retriever, plays at Calgrove Kennels in Newhall on Monday. Calgrove Kennels is scheduled to close on June 1 due to concerns about health and bureaucracy.

After 40 years of caring for families’ pets, Calgrove Kennels is closing its doors June 1.

The Newhall kennel is located on The Old Road off the Interstate 5 and Calgrove Boulevard exit.

Distraught owner Mike Lovingood, 64, who has been tending to owners’ cherished pets for 40 years, said the stress of dealing with Los Angeles County bureaucracy, state regulations and a health scare led to his decision.

The Vietnam War veteran said at one time he worked a number of jobs locally before buying the kennel’s property from Caltrans. It took him almost two years to get approval to build the dog kennel.

Over the years, Lovingood said he’s given 120 percent to the community by caring for family pets. Running the kennel is a 365-day-a-year business, which begins by feeding animals at 4:30 a.m. He has more than 100 medications to administer to visiting pets over the next weeks.

Lovingood said he hasn’t had a vacation in 16 years.

The kennel’s website is full of postings from customers who are sad about the closing and loss of the local kennel, many of whom have been bringing family pets for years.

Broken promises
Calgrove Kennels has dealt with broken promises by the county for years and spent thousands of dollars complying with state and local regulations, Lovingood said.

“I had a promise, in writing, that the county would help fix the flood channel,” he said. “They said they would fix it by 2003, but that never happened.”

The only help he has ever received from the county, Lovingood said, was from Rosalind Wayman, senior deputy to Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

“We are very sorry to see him close his business,” Wayman said. “We were able to help him resolve some of the problems, but some things take time.”

The kennel, which employs between four and six employees, sits between the freeway and the one road entering the SCV from the county.

On either side, the property is bordered by water channels, making it somewhat of an island. The channel in front of the kennel was built in two sections. One is 55 feet wide, Lovingood said, and the one directly in front of him is only 19 feet wide.

“The two were never connected,” he said. “There was dirt and 55 feet of water trying to flow into only 19 feet of space during the flooded periods. The water would rise and overflow.”

In front of his property, two large drains from the freeway still flood his property sometimes — like during the heavy rains from a couple of weeks ago.

Several years ago, The Old Road was built up 2 to 3 feet and paved for commuters. At a cost of $78,000, the kennel was forced to build a bridge to gain access to its own property, Lovingood said. It didn’t last and four years ago he had to build another bridge.

The channel fills up with dirt, tires and sewage, Lovingood said, which adds to the flooding concern. But he’s prohibited from cleaning it because there are protected fish in the water, he said.

Calgrove Kennels has also battled Caltrans to clear growth from the banks of the freeway that face his property, to protect his business from the wildfires that rage through the area.

“I’m just the little guy on the back road,” Lovingood said.

Peak season
The kennel closed for a few weeks in March to make $42,000 in maintenance and repairs before the busy vacation season began.

After reopening, the longtime kennel manager resigned, leaving Lovingood without a trained professional manager on-site. It would have taken two to three years to train someone new, he said.

Over the years, the kennel has saved thousands of dogs from being put to sleep or placed in shelters, Lovingood said.

With a focus on offering quality care, he said he’d rather close the kennel down than offer anything less.
Health scare

“I thought I had a heart attack a couple of weeks ago,” Lovingood said. “It turned out to be stress.”

The owner is distressed over the closing but said he is just worn out by all the hurdles he has had to go through over the years.

Shutting the kennel’s doors officially on June 1, Lovingood said he is honoring all of the reservations made previously through the month of June so families can go on planned vacations.

Lovingood would like to leave the state. He said it’s too expensive to do business and live here. But it’s not possible if he can’t sell the property and it’s not feasible to sell his land now. For now he’ll keep the property.

“I don’t know what I’ll do now,” Lovingood said. “I can’t think.”


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