EagleHerald Staff Writer
MARINETTE—Tri-County Dog Training Academy would like to sit and stay at the Wisconsin National Guard armory building in Marinette, but after 20 years of teaching dogs and their masters there, it’s been told to find another home for next year.
A new statewide Wisconsin National Guard rental policy excludes animals, said Major Joe Trovato at the Wisconsin National Guard in Madison, which oversees armory rentals in the state. The Guard also is being more selective about the groups it allows to use its armories, favoring veterans groups, scouts and other groups “that directly support the military or National Guard mission,” Trovato said.
For Tri-County Dog Training, it’s sad news. “We’ve always had a good relationship with the armory. It was a very nice, comfortable, accommodating place. We are very sad we’re not going to be able to rent it again,” said dog trainer Viette Hornick (See related story).
The new policy took into account security, COVID-19, and “an intent not to compete with local businesses. And in this case, no animals in the rental facility,” Trovato said. The policy changes aren’t specific to the Marinette armory. “That’s statewide. That’s part of a larger overhaul of the rental policy at the state level,” he said.
As the Wisconsin National Guard increased its regulations and stipulations, most groups that rented the armory—from baseball registration to 4-H and the 20-Year Club—have moved to other facilities.
Finding a new home isn’t so easy when you’re asking the landlord to allow 15 to 20 dogs per class, said Sue Cota, a Tri-County past president who owns two Cocker Spaniels and is an original member of the nonprofit formed in 1998.
“It’s hard to find a spot for one night a week,” she said. ”If it’s a new building, they don’t want to rent it. If it’s an old building, they don’t want to get it up to use again (for just one night a week), turning on the heat and making sure the parking lot is plowed.”
Tri-County Dog Training is an asset to the Marinette-Menominee community, Cota said. “Our classes are filled every session,” she said. “We have to turn people away.” Many people return for another session when they get a new dog. At $65 for a 10-week session, the courses are priced “so people can afford to come,” Cota said.
The price hasn’t changed much in 20 years. “We started out 20 years ago charging $50,” Hornick said. “As long as it covers our expenses, we figure, well, more people will be able to take our classes.”
A commitment to affordability also is making it more difficult to find a rental space. “What we have to do is find someone who is a good citizen and likes dogs and want to help us out,” she said.