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Variance sought for canine sports training center

By EVE LEBERSON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 5, 2003

CITRUS PARK -- It'll be an equestrian center for dogs.

That's what Mary Rulli says of the new dog sporting center she and her partners will open on 10 acres off Gardner Road, just east of Sheldon Road.

The Canine Sports Complex will offer service by KETCH (K-9 Educational Training Center of Hillsborough Inc.), a Town 'N Country business now offering dog training and day care on Johns Road. The company will move its operation to the new center's 6,000-square-foot building, where it will offer doggie day care, overnight boarding and obedience classes.

But the center's biggest feature, Rulli said, is its canine sports training program and the 24,000-square-foot outdoor arena, where KETCH will offer agility training (think doggie obstacle courses) and flyball (dog team relay races). The center also will give lessons in sheep herding. Eleven sheep already occupy the vacant property.

KETCH was scheduled to move its Town 'N Country facility to the new center at 7709 Gardner Road in December . But construction was delayed by this winter's unusually heavy rain. "We're hoping we'll have the facility up and running by March or April," Rulli said. "We are at the mercy of Mother Nature."

The Rullis need a variance to the county's buffering codes, which call for a 6-foot fence along the eastern and western portions of the property. A land-use hearing officer is scheduled to hear their request Feb. 14.

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