Court rules on Happy Paws Dog numbers must be cut
A NON-KILL animal shelter operating at Eatonsville, near Grafton, must slash the number of dogs in its care from 32 to eight, says an appeal court judge.
Happy Paws Haven appealed in the Land and Environment Court against a number of orders from Clarence Valley Council to prevent noise problems from barking dogs.
But the appeal appears to have backfired, with the court ordering Happy Paws manager Sally Rogers to either improve the quality of the materials used in the shelter or cut the number of dogs in her care, as well as implementing stringent training regimes to stop dogs from barking, monitoring the behaviour of problem animals, train its volunteers to minimise dog barking and working with other agencies to re-home dogs.
The appeal, which began in August last year and wound up on November 1, 2013, considered evidence from two experts it appointed to look into the noise levels and animal behaviour.
Acoustic expert Neil Gross presented the court with a report into noise levels emanating from Happy Paws, and animal behaviour expert Dr Gaille Perry presented a Noise Management Plan using information from Mr Gross's report.
The court admitted the 24-point noise management plan was onerous and
ordered Dr Perry to come up with an amended plan, which was delivered in July. Mr Gross also prepared additional acoustic reports for the court.
Both experts had inspected modifications Ms Rogers had made to the animal shelters, which they said did not fit the guidelines of their reports.
The court agreed and in its order required Ms Rogers to limit the number of dogs in her care to eight.
The order also ordered she could have no more than one litter of pups in her care at any one time.
But, the order states it applies only to Happy Paws Haven and not the four dogs which are Ms Rogers' pets.
"Although the council is concerned that Ms Rogers will attempt to thwart the decrease in the dog population of Happy Paws mandated by the recommendations contained in either the NMP or the ANMP by increasing the number of dogs she keeps as pets, the physical constraints imposed on the size of her residential dwelling and yard will provide a constraint on such activity," the judgment reads.
The court was more generous than the council in the time frame it gave Happy Paws to comply with its order.
"It was not a matter of controversy that Ms Rogers was a person of modest means and that Happy Paws is a non-profit shelter relying on the goodwill of volunteers and donations from the community to operate," it read.
"In these circumstances it is appropriate to afford a degree of latitude to Ms Rogers in the time required by her to give effect to the recommendations contained in the ANMP and this is accordingly reflected in the orders made by the court."
Ms Rogers has six months to comply with most of the court orders and nine months to supply written reports to the court summarising how she has complied with the orders.
The Daily Examiner attempted to contact Ms Rogers for comment but she did not reply.