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New Owners Give Kennel Second Life

A local dog kennel is looking for a fresh start after the previous owner was convicted of animal cruelty.

STEPHENSON, Va. -  If cats have nine lives, the owners and employees of Aberdeen Acres Pet Resort and Spa hope their facility has two.

Melissa and Tom Stubblefield are working to create a fresh start after the former owner, Russell Ebersole was convicted of animal cruelty charges last October.

"When they ask if Mr. Ebersole works here still, I tell them no, he's no longer involved in Aberdeen," said manager Laura Brown, who’s been with the facility for four years.

After boarding their own pets at Aberdeen Acres since 1996, the Stubblefields approached Ebersole and his fiancé about buying the business after Ebersole's sentencing.

"[My husband and I] were looking for something to do for retirement, something a little bit slower pace than our current careers,” said Stubblefield.

Despite new ownership, a dark cloud has hung over the business since Ebersole's conviction. Employees say they are usually at 75 percent capacity around the apple blossom festival. This year, they were at just 12 percent.

"It’s officially our first day, and there are not that many dogs or cats here at Aberdeen. Business has been a little bit slow with all of the issues that Mr. Ebersole had," said Stubblefield.

Because of his history with animal abuse, the new owners vow Ebersole will have no part in the future of Aberdeen Acres.

"Mr. Ebersole is no longer involved in the business, except for what is necessary to transition to us," said Stubblefield.

And as avid animal lovers themselves, the new owners want the public to know Aberdeen Acres is a safe place for all kinds of pets.

"Dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, ferrets, I think we've had some snakes and iguanas," said Stubblefield.

"I told a customer we would take an elephant, if we had the room for it," joked Brown.

Aberdeen Acres Pet Resort and Spa is offering military and law enforcement discounts. Contact them at (540) 667-7809 or visit their website for more information.

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