A Maungatapu woman is at her wits' ends and “stressed to the max” as she faces losing her dog following a raft of complaints to council claiming it barks all-night.
In the last year, Tauranga City Council has received 14 complaints about the barking of Kathryn Edward's labrador retriever boxer cross, Baxta.
Kathryn Edwards' house where Baxta the dog lives. Photo: Tracy Hardy.
Both an abatement notice and a notice to remove the dog under Section 55(1) of the council's Dog Control Act 1996 were sent to Kathryn earlier this year, which she originally objected to.
Three nearby neighbours have complained to council saying the dog barks for more than 30 minutes at a time between midnight and 5.30am, causing disruption to their sleep.
At today's hearings panel subcommittee, consisting of councillors Terry Molloy, Wayne Moultrie and Larry Baldock, animal services team leader Brent Lincoln and Kathryn both aired their concerns about the situation.
Brent says the first complaint received about five-year-old Baxta was on May 22, 2012 – two weeks before Kathryn's late husband Clint died, transferring ownership of the dog to Kathryn.
A further 13 complaints from the three different residents were lodged soon after.
After receiving the complaint, council discussed the situation with Kathryn and there was a short reprieve in the barking before it started again a short time later.
Council sent Kathryn advisory letters outlining how to manage a barking dog, but further complaints forced council to conduct a barking survey. Questionnaires were delivered to households adjacent to Kathryn's home and other properties that may be affected.
From the 10 questionnaires sent out, which did not identify Kathryn's address or her dog, five responded. Three of those identified the dog as “causing a nuisance” by loud and persistent barking. The other two did not have any issue with the dog.
Kathryn was served an abatement notice after the survey requiring her to reduce the level of barking.
Six more complaints about the barking were received by council and on August 8, 2013 council issued a final warning letter advising if complaints continued Kathryn would be required to remove the dog.
Two more complaints were recorded and a notice to remove was issued on August 27.
An emotional Kathryn told the committee today she is quite shocked at the amount of complaints, but is willing to keep the peace and take any council decision on the chin.
“I have tried everything. I have tried a collar, gone to pet shops for different sprays, and tried the internet for a better opinion about why is he barking,” says Kathryn.
“I think the easiest way is for him to be put down. It will be sad, I know that, but I can't keep up with the stress.”
She has since purchased a de-barker collar and transmitter, which has been used since August 15. One verbal complaint has been reported since.
Committee chairman Wayne Moultrie decided to “throw the rule book out the window” and look for solutions in re-housing the dog away from the property, or temporarily moving the dog until the barking is reduced.
But Brent says a temporary arrangement is not the answer as Labradors are very situational barking dogs, where they may bark at one address and not another, and the barking could start again once he returns.
Kathryn admits Baxta does not leave the property for any proper exercise and if there was a possibility to re-home the dog she would be more than willing, but has no friends or family in rural areas.
“I just want to keep the peace and if he has to go he has to go.”