Sleepless nights and noise nuisance has been discussed in a small Devon village plagued with a dog issue.
Peters Marland Parish council have been in correspondence with Torridge District Council since last summer over the noise and number of dogs kept by a resident at Winscott Lawn.
In 2011, the resident was found to have more than 100 dogs living with her and was served with an ASBO. At the time, she was told she could only keep six dogs.
Councillor Trish Ward said that the issue had become a talking point in the village since their last meeting in February.
Speaking in the democratic period, a resident, who wished not to be named, read out the feedback she had received from people in the village.
“This is making our lives miserable,” one wrote.
“The problem is the number of people it affects versus the cost of lawful action. I would like to see an end to this. The noise is so persistent and intrusive.
“It’s horrid to hear because they are in such distress. It’s also a nuisance as they wake us at night and disturb our peace in the day.”
Another resident who said they lived 400 yards away said: “We hear these poor animals in distress and desperate for the right love and attention every day.
“It saddens me that it is affecting so much of our community. We have to keep our windows shut, which makes it stifling in the summer.”
Another, who lives 2km away, stated: “I’m bothered by the noise by the extent I have to shut my bedroom window. When I’m in the garden, I have to wear earphones, but I can still hear barking.
“For the past three summers, I have not sat in my garden. Even inside the house with the windows shut and TV on, the sound of barking is still audible.”
Another added: “This affects our mental health, especially through lockdown when you can’t travel to get away, and we can’t sit outside or even walk in the area without being disturbed.
“We can’t use one of the bedrooms in our house facing in that direction because the noise is too loud to get a good night’s sleep.
“It’s exhausting lying awake, often until 11 pm or midnight, hoping they quieten down long enough to get to sleep soon as the alarm will be going off at 5 am.”
And one other commenter said: “Sometimes I’ve been in tears hearing the awful sound it’s not just barking but yelping and screeching, which is so distressing. I spent many years believing I was on my own. It is very comforting to realise at last that this is untrue.”
The person, who had collated messages from residents, said they had received correspondence from Torridge District Council which stated: “It is an awful situation both for the noise and in respect of the dogs themselves.
“Engaging with the owner is difficult. They have no powers to enter the land and remove the dogs, nor do they have powers preventing the owner from bringing more dogs to the property.
“They have been working with partner organisations to re-home the dogs; however, each time some of the dogs are removed, more are brought to the property.
“Nothing can be done to stop this. They are taking as much action as they possibly can.”
The resident said that on March 29, she had contacted the Dogs Trust, which stated: “We have never stopped re-homing dogs even during the lockdown.
“We will work with any owner to re-home as many dogs as require re-homing event if this means taking them around the country to other centres. We do not set a limit on the number we can take.”
She added: “Therefore, Covid can not be used as an excuse by the owner for not re-homing the dogs as she was instructed to do so by the court in February 2020.
“The can has been kicked down the road for far too long. It is time it was dealt with irrevocably and finally. No ifs, no buts.”
Cllr Ward said: “As a council, we’re fully aware of the nuisance and the emotions this has raised.
“It’s been exacerbated by being in lockdown, which has made it unbearable for some when the dogs are barking incessantly and invading the peacefulness of living in the village.
“Over the last 18 months, councillors have taken note of these issues and these comments and have regularly communicated these to Torridge with any evidence and asked for progress from them in this matter.
“We will continue to do so until the issue is resolved. I would ask that people affected keep a log of the evidence of this nuisance.
“The pandemic lockdown has made it more difficult for agencies dealing with this, but this is no excuse for something not being done to reduce the number of dogs residing together.”
She said that there had been reports of dogs straying into the road.
“Our concerns are for the welfare of the dogs and hope some of the comments made on social media recently and the newspaper report have not aggravated the situation and made it more difficult to get a response and a reduction in dog numbers.
“We would hope that maybe we could soon get some evidence that the dogs are gradually being re-homed.
“Emotional words are fine, and we all take on board what it means to people and what it’s causing to their mental health, but the evidence is what is needed in this ongoing problem.”
She read a letter from Staci Dory, a monitoring officer of Torridge District Council, which stated: “We do accept that there is an issue and can assure everyone that we have not stopped action either due to finance or due to Covid.
“All our council services have continued to run during Covid.
“Our officers have attended regularly. We do not announce our presence nor advertise the fact that we are there. We are working on it; however, these things take time, and we need assistance from other agencies due to the complex issue.
“If people could continue to keep records or diaries for us, this would be helpful.”
District council member for Shebbear and Langtree said: “This is a multi-agency problem for various reasons. The sheer scale of the issue is one thing.
“We are discussing and involving all the various relevant authorities and agencies. Everybody is on board with the ongoing situation.
“I wish I could tell you when a thing is going to happen, and I wish I could tell you it’s going to be cleared up and all going to be sorted out by next week, and it’s never going to be a problem again.
“I can’t say that, and it would be foolish to try and do so.
“We are on top of it; it will be sorted out. I am sorry it has gone on for so long, but part of the problem is dogs being brought in, and that’s beyond anybody’s power to stop unless anybody has a brainwave.”
He addressed concerns that Torridge had been reluctant to progress the issue.
“I know it has been difficult, and you’ve all been very patient, but at the end of the day, it’s you as neighbours who are having to be there day in and day out.”
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