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Life has changed at Puffy Paws

Puffy Paws Kitty Haven owner Rick Kingston cuddles one of his kitties.

Puffy Paws Kitty Haven owner Rick Kingston cud­dles one of his kitties.

Nan­nette Thode used to make weekly vis­its to Puffy Paws Kitty Haven; sit­ting on the sofa and pat­ting the cats was a form of ther­apy for the woman who lost her hus­band in June.

But that was before Sara­sota County told Puffy Paws owner Rick Kingston that he was in vio­la­tion of a code for­bid­ding home-based busi­nesses in his area.

Now they’ve denied me that,” said Thode.

Kingston and his wife have been run­ning Puffy Paws Kitty Haven out of their home on Lake­view Lane for years. Approximately100 cats reside in the no-kill shel­ter, which was reg­is­tered and licensed with the Florida Depart­ment Of Agri­cul­ture & Con­sumer Ser­vices in 2006 and granted 501c3 (non-profit, tax-deductible) sta­tus in March. Kingston has adopted out 125 cats since early 2007 from his home on Lake­view Lane, but he can’t do that anymore.

Only fam­ily and friends can come and go,” said Kingston. “There will be no open houses, no sur­ren­ders, no vol­un­teers, no signs. We’re OK with that. It puts a strain on me and my wife, but we’re will­ing to oper­ate in that manner.”

Sara­sota County Code Enforce­ment Offi­cer Bob Lep­ley informed the Kingstons of an anony­mous com­plaint in late Octo­ber. The cou­ple was given 30 days to com­ply with the reg­u­la­tions, which include not hav­ing cus­tomers com­ing and going from the house. If they don’t com­ply, the prop­erty owner – Kingston’s mother – will face fines.

I don’t antic­i­pate it ever get­ting that far,” Lep­ley said. “They were very agree­able. … I think it will be resolved 100 percent.”

Although he imme­di­ately dis­con­tin­ued hav­ing vis­i­tors at his home, Kingston has been con­cerned about the the large trash bin sit­ting in his dri­ve­way, which he said might be the cause of the com­plaint. The bin was placed there sev­eral months ago to make the dis­posal of 2,100 pounds of cat lit­ter every week eas­ier on Waste Man­age­ment personnel.

The code guy talked to my mom, told her that’s what did us in, that Dump­ster,” said Kingston.

That’s not my issue,” said Lep­ley, who said he told Kingston that the bin gives the appear­ance that his home isn’t an ordi­nary one, that it’s a business.

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, gen­er­ally it’s a duck,” Lep­ley said.

Kingston is look­ing for a $500 dona­tion to cover the expense of hid­ing the bin.

He is still tak­ing in cats. Sur­ren­ders are done at Lov­ing Care Ani­mal Hos­pi­tal, 2011 Engle­wood Road.  Dona­tions can be made seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Puffy Paws Kitty Haven Dona­tion and Stor­age Cen­ter  located off San Case Drive on Woodgate Court. Kingston said that it’s to the right of  Wal­mart, and is iden­ti­fi­able by its strobe light and Free Stuff sign.

It costs $150 a day to meet the basic needs of the cats, he said. That includes 50 pounds of wet food, two 18-pound bags of dry food and 350 pounds of cat litter.

One dona­tion he can count on is $50 a week from Thode.

They weren’t harm­ing any­body,” she said. “They keep the house neat and clean. … It’s the only char­ity I’ve heard of where all the dona­tions go to the ani­mals. It’s two peo­ple who have devoted them­selves to sav­ing cats.”

While the change has made life more dif­fi­cult for the Kingstons, their pri­mary con­cern is keep­ing the cats safe.

It’s their haven, not The Haven now,” said Kingston.

Paffy Paws owner Rick Kingston thinks his recently arrived trash bin might have spurred the anonymous complaint.

Paffy Paws owner Rick Kingston thinks his recently arrived trash bin might have spurred the anony­mous complaint.

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2 responses to “Life has changed at Puffy Paws”

  1. Saturday Noos » Cat Blogosphere

    11 / 13 / 2010
    12:45 pm

    […] Puffy Paws Kitty Haven really needs dona­tions. (Face­book Page, Back­ground Story on Sara­sota Code) […]

  2. lgcatwoman19

    7 / 21 / 2013
    8:24 am

    This is just STUPID–Puffy Paws was issued a non profit license at this Engle­wood Address, cor­rect? How could they say friends (I am assum­ing that since they allowed Ms. Thode into their home that Rick & Chrissy con­sider here a friend) are not allowed and how do they decide who is and isn’t a friend. Have you ever seen the foot traf­fic in and out of a home with sev­eral teenagers and their friends in the sum­mer­time when school is out? Ha! It could not be any worse that that! I think that your prop­erty taxes should allow you some free­dom to gov­ern your own home, not that of your neigh­bors. If these peo­ple can­not see that this is a com­mu­nity ser­vice than shame on them. Let THEM move! I hope Ms Thode was able to return to visit when she so desired sev­eral years ago. After all she was not buy­ing or sell­ing anything–she just wanted to visit with the kitties.

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