Haven in dog fight
HAPPY Paws Haven manager Sally Rogers has been given until the end of the month to remove every single dog from her Eatonsville pet shelter.
Ms Rogers, who established the shelter in 2006 to find new homes for stray and abandoned cats and dogs, has been issued with a formal notice from Clarence Valley Council to have the dogs removed in response to noise complaints from residents living nearby.
"Within 21 days (of June 7) I need to remove all the dogs from the property - including my own - which I believe is highly unfair when every single one of my neighbours have their own dogs," Ms Rogers said.
Last year she successfully appealed to the Land and Environment Court to overturn a council decision to close the shelter due to breaches of zoning restrictions - including having too many animals. Ms Rogers' property was found by the court to be zoned for agricultural use and as such the number of animals on her land was acceptable.
However the council's manager of Environment and Open Spaces, Peter Birch, yesterday confirmed it was taking new action against Ms Rogers.
"We've issued a prevention notice following a long period of complaints about her operations from her neighbours in that area concerning noise, and that's also been verified by independent acoustic monitoring that we have engaged and monitoring under-taken by our own rangers at dif- ferent times," Mr Birch said.
The Daily Examiner has obtained a list of complaints made to the council about Happy Paws between June 2009 and July 2011 - the majority deal with barking noise complaints (see fact box).
Mr Birch said more complaints had been made since July 2011.
However Ms Rogers said the noise complaints were greatly exaggerated and that she was being unfairly targeted by a small number of people who wanted to see the shelter closed.
"If it was fact and the dogs were actually barking that much, it'd be a completely different story but it just isn't the case," she said
"I've got a number of letters from volunteers, people who have stayed here and also expert opin- ion saying the dogs do not bark at the rate that the neighbours are reporting."
Ms Rogers, who intends to appeal the council notice, said she was trying to raise funds and materials to build a 2.5-metre corrugated iron fence around the property to reduce the impact of any barking.