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Little joy for Happy Paws

Happy Paws Haven operator Sally Rogers outside Grafton courthouse on Monday.
Happy Paws Haven operator Sally Rogers outside Grafton courthouse on Monday. Adam Hourigan

ANY hope of finding a solution yesterday to the ongoing dispute between Happy Paws operator Sally Rogers and her Eatonsville neighbours vanished shortly after the lunch break when it became clear there would be no time left in the Land and Environment Court proceedings to hear from acoustic experts.

In a day punctuated by bitter remarks between the legal counsels for Ms Rogers and Clarence Valley Council, Justice Rachel Pepper called for better co-operation between the parties.

The case is centred on the conditions of a CVC-issued noise prevention notice.

While Ms Rogers has completed a number of the actions set down in the notice, including the installation of sound-reducing tiles inside the dog enclosures, she is objecting to the conversion of the centre into boarding kennels with dogs housed singularly or in compatible pairs.

Neighbour Jane Dwyer told the court in her written affidavit that the dogs at Happy Paws barked almost hourly, but Ms 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 she would not because the situation had deteriorated drastically in recent times.

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

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 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 would 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.

Justice Pepper ordered a mediation meeting for all parties before October 5 with a directions hearing on October 12.

She ordered that Ms Rogers hold no more dogs than the current number of 32, plus an unlimited number of puppies (under six months of age), until the matter was determined.

Topics:  animals, clarence valley council, grafton, happy paws, land and environment court, noise


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