Orange County turns down controversial kennel proposal

Lake Pickett-area residents showed up to fight proposed pet-breeding facility

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orange County Zoning Board denied a proposal Thursday for a commercial dog kennel that had received pushback from many residents of the Lake Pickett area.

Juan Valencia, the man who wants to build the kennel in Orange County, is facing negative feedback from neighbors who are concerned over what they believe is a “puppy mill.”

Valencia told News 6 that he wants people opposing his idea of bringing his breeding facility, Bright Pets, to understand that it’s not going to be run like a puppy mill or a pet store.

“We want to do it right, and it’s going to be a state-of-the-art where the dogs will be in the best conditions ever possible,” Valencia said. “All our dogs are FCI, which is higher than ATC. Not all the breeders have it. Puppy mills definitely, they don’t know what they’re breeding. They don’t know where the adult dogs are coming from. We do know where they’re coming from. They’re coming from top breeders around the world.”

[TRENDING: Become a News 6 Insider]

Valencia said he’s been in the breeding business for 17 years starting in Canada, but he now plans to move to Central Florida with his 64 dogs across seven different breeds. Among the breeds are Yorkshires, Dachshunds and Maltese.

Some residents, however, believe that a new breeding facility is just going to worsen animal overpopulation issues.

“It will set a precedent, and the commercial aspect of it to be permitted here in our community is just — we’re just flabbergasted,” Orlando resident Jeannie McKnight said.

An issue for Michele Wacker and Mcknight is that both women live close to where the breeding facility would be located in Orlando’s Lake Pickett area.

“Orange County already has a pet-overpopulation problem. In fact, we’re building a new animal control in 2024. The taxpayers are paying for it, and we banned the retail sale of puppies that are sourced from facilities just like Mr. Santa is going to build up the street,” Wacker said. “You do not build a 5,000-square-foot metal monstrosity with almost 60 kennels in it to breed dogs for yourself. He’s obviously breeding dogs to sell.”

Valencia said that his biggest challenge was getting opponents to understand his proposal.

“The challenge for us is people taking the time to understand our project. That’s the biggest challenge because people don’t want to — they just made up an idea, and they don’t want to hear the story,” he said.

According to Valencia, the facility would be different from a puppy mill because he would make sure to provide good living conditions and care for his dogs.

“That space will allow us to have two indoor playgrounds where dogs can play and two outside playgrounds where dogs will spend limited time outside,” Valencia said. “The main difference is the standards that we have. We do a lot of research. We have a veterinarian that’s gonna be in charge of our dogs.”

However, Wacker, who ran a rescue organization in Orlando a few years ago, said she wasn’t convinced.

“He only has to breed to supply inventory to sell the puppies, so the only difference between him and a pet store is that he breeds his own inventory. It’s still a pet store,” Wacker said.

Valencia had a hearing scheduled for Thursday before the zoning department for an exception. The department unanimously turned down his request.

Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily: