Barking complaints go to court

TENSIONS rose in the Land and Environment Court sittings in Grafton today as neighbours of Happy Paws Haven at Eatonsville took to the stand to explain how the dog shelter was impacting on their lives.

Neighbour Jane Dwyer told the court in her written affidavit that the dogs at Happy Paws barked almost hourly but Sally Rogers' lawyer Chris Adamson questioned the claim and asked if she was woken up every hour at night.

"Not once did I say that I was woken up hourly by the dogs," Ms Dwyer said.

Mr Adamson put it to Ms Dwyer that the dogs did not bark for long periods at a time, but instead only a few minutes before someone from Happy Paws calmed the dogs.

"This is totally incorrect," Ms Dwyer responded.

Asked if she would allow contractors onto her land so a fence could be built to help reduce noise, Mrs Dwyer said no because the situation had deteriorated drastically in recent times.

Mr Adamson questioned whether Ms Dwyer could distinguish between the Happy Paws dogs and other dogs in the neighbourhood.

Under further questioning, Ms Dwyer said she wouldn't like to see Happy Paws close down and said she was prepared to live with the shelter if reasonable steps were taken to reduce the noise.

"I feel I have been made to feel uncomfortable in my own home," she said.

"I have heard reports of people on my property when I'm not there … there's been stray dogs that have killed chooks and rip open garbage."

Troy Campbell said his home was about 275 metres from the Happy Paws boundary and that he owned six dogs including one larger dog named Tiny which helped protect a flock of sheep on the property from wild dogs.

He said he had reduced the use of a paddock that shared a boundary with Happy Paws because his presence there tended to set off the dogs inside the shelter.

"I am conscious of other neighbours who hear the dogs more than me - it's not pleasant to be up there," he said.
After raising concerns that a horse may put holes in the galvanised iron fence proposed by Ms Rogers, Mr

Campbell said he would consider agreeing to such a fence if it was behind the current barbed wire and post fence on the boundary.

Mr Campbell said ideally he'd like to see Happy Paws gone from its current location because there were too many dogs on too small an area and the dogs were virtually on top of each other.

"The yelping I hear sometimes sounds cruel," he said.

When this was questioned by Mr Adamson, Mr Campbell retorted: "With 40 years of being around animals I think I have a fair idea of what sounds they make".

Mr Campbell agreed that such "settling in" periods were inevitable in a rescue and rehousing setup for dogs.

The appeal hearing was adjourned for 45 minutes  to allow time for two expert witnesses in the case, acoustic engineers, to find some common ground.

Clarence Valley Council's lawyer Nicholas Hogan said the experts disagreed on every point.

"That's a first," said Justice Rachel Pepper before ordering the parties to reach some agreement over the adjournment.

Topics:  barking happy paws haven land and environment court noise complaints

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