Guns ‘used to upset dogs'

GUNSHOTS and loud motorbikes used to provoke barking dogs at Happy Paws Haven were just two items presented to the Land and Environment Court in Grafton yesterday as part of Sally Rogers' appeal against conditions of a Clarence Valley Council noise prevention notice issued in June.

Justice Rachel Pepper and legal representatives for both sides of the case toured the Eatonsville pet shelter as a precursor to two days of sittings in the Grafton courthouse.

The notice from the council sets down a number of actions needed to be taken but it was clear to the court at yesterday's tour that most actions, including the erection of a fence and the installation of acoustic (sound reducing) tiles inside the dog enclosures, had been undertaken.

Remaining in dispute late yesterday was a requirement for the dogs to be housed in sound reticulated and air-conditioned accommodation either singularly or in compatible pairs.

"I have seen no evidence to suggest that dogs held singularly or in compatible pairs is going to reduce the noise," Justice Pepper said.

Ms Rogers' lawyer, Chris Adamson, argued against the admission into evidence the affidavits of nine neighbours who were complaining about the shelter, saying they were highly contentious and "extreme exaggerations of what has happened at Happy Paws".

Some neighbours, he said, were concerned not so much with noise as they were of getting rid of Happy Paws Haven altogether. The affidavits were allowed by Justice Pepper.

The court heard claims that some neighbours had provoked Happy Paws' dogs into barking with the use of guns and motorbikes or by standing in close proximity to the property.

Mr Adamson said the noise generated from such provocation was at the centre of the case.

Ms Rogers said she had re-housed more than 500 dogs in five years and was normally a temporary home to between 30 and 40 dogs and a number of puppies but, in accordance with the stay application, the shelter had not taken on any new animals since July.

She told the story about how "somebody" cut a hole in a fence allowing three puppies out and then neighbours called the ranger because the 12-week-old pups were posing a danger to them.

Mr Adamson asked CVC manager of environment and open spaces Peter Birch if the council had acted on complaints from Ms Rogers about noise from her neighbours.

Mr Birch said the matter was referred to police and any noise prevention notice would not be issued lightly because the case would need to be substantiated.

Under questioning from Justice Pepper, Mr Birch conceded he did not know of any action taken against Ms Rogers' neighbours.

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