Perthshire Kennels Forced To Close After Grant Funding Withdrawn


A Perthshire kennel owner has spoken out after being denied access to emergency COVID funding – forcing it to close.

Gallowmyre Kennels, near Pitroddie, closed its doors on Saturday until at least May 1 due to financial strains caused by the pandemic.

Sarah Will took over the kennel, which can accommodate 60 dogs, last January and despite reopening in June after the lockdown, only saw a maximum of 20 dogs housed at a time during peak periods.

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The kennels were due to accommodate an influx of 30 dogs around Christmas, but massive cancellations followed the tightening of restrictions by the government, with only eight remaining in its care.

Sarah’s attempts to keep the kennels open led her to turn to the Strategic Business Fund and the Self-Employed Income Assistance Scheme, but she was deemed ineligible for both.

After a tough 12 months, where her workforce fell from over 20 to just three, Sarah is now calling on the government to step in and put in grants to help save not just her business, but others like her.

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“Kennels have to be one of the hardest hit businesses in the market,” said Sarah, who only had one dog in her care when it closed.

“In June we reopened and picked up business and had more over the summer, but we never had enough to take 60 dogs.

Julie Campbell (left) and kennel owner Sarah Will (photos by staff photographer Richard Wilkins) Photos by staff photographer Richard Wilkins

“In the summer, at our peak, we struggled to take 15-20 dogs when we would normally be at maximum capacity at 60, so we really struggled.

“November and December are normally busy, but we haven’t had any so far either and January and February are the lean periods.

“Christmas seemed to be busy and then everything was canceled at the last minute.

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“Everyone was told not to travel and not to see family, so we only had eight dogs and we thought it would be around 30.

“So most of my clients who came this year were hospitalized or, in long term cases, because they had been flooded from their homes. “

After applying for strategic framework funding, PKC responded to Sarah in an email stating that her company “is not eligible for this program under the level four categories defined by the Scottish Government in the strategic framework covering the Temporary Closure Fund “.

He was also told that restriction funding does not apply at level four for any business.

Sarah believes that the two grants she requested should cover the kennels.

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“We were pushed back and they don’t explain why, you just get a generic email,” she said.

“And I can’t claim self-employment because I only took over the business in January and it takes three years of books.

“So although my staff could be put on leave, I worked a seven-day week and often a 12-hour day with nothing to show.

“Having been rejected for funding, I just said ‘I can’t go on anymore’.

“I don’t want to close because there are clients who will really need a place to put their dogs to work or if they have to go to the hospital.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: ‘The Policy Framework Business Fund provides grants to businesses required by law to close or significantly change their operations due to COVID-19 restrictions. “

The response from Perth and Kinross Council was to refer to the guidelines on the Scottish Government website.

The guidelines state: “Boarding schools and catteries can operate normally, provided that the rules of physical distancing are followed and measures are taken to minimize the risk of incidence and spread of the coronavirus in the premises, for example by limiting face to face interactions and maintaining hygiene.

“This should include maintaining a physical distance for their staff and owners when animals arrive or are collected.”

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