Neighbours win court injunction against noisy Yukon kennel

A judge has ruled that Shelley Cuthbert can now keep no more than two dogs on her Tagish property.

Judge rules that Shelley Cuthbert can only keep 2 dogs on her Tagish property

Shelley Cuthbert at her kennel in Tagish, Yukon, last year. A group of neighbours sued Cuthbert, complaining that the dozens of dogs disturbed their peace. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

A Yukon Supreme Court judge has granted an injunction essentially forcing a woman to close her animal rescue facility in Tagish, Yukon.

Shelley Cuthbert has been operating the controversial kennel since 2012.

A group of her neighbours sued her, saying the facility's scores of dogs disturbed their peace and threatened their safety. The civil trial was heard in court last month.

In his decision, issued Oct. 11, Justice Leigh Gower found the dogs' barking caused substantial and unreasonable interference in neighbours' lives.

The injunction limits the number of dogs on Cuthbert's property to just two. She has four months to find homes for the rest of the animals. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

He said Cuthbert's argument that she provides an essential service, and has done due diligence, is not a valid defence.

Gower ordered an injunction that will limit the number of dogs on Cuthbert's property to just two. She has four months to find homes for the rest of the animals.

A year ago, Cuthbert said she had about 80 dogs on her property, and was unapologetic about any disturbance they caused.

Safety concerns

Neighbours said besides the noise, they were also concerned about their safety if any of the dogs were to escape the kennel.

The neighbours' lawyer, Graham Lang, argued the kennel was a nuisance, and said an injunction was the only possible remedy.

Over an emotional four days of testimony, several neighbours testified that the barking is affecting their health, their relationships, and their ability to enjoy their own rural properties.

In her defence, Cuthbert said the dogs aren't barking constantly. She also highlighted the time and money she has invested in addressing her neighbours concerns.

She also told court that she has experienced harassment and vandalism to her property.    

About the Author

Alexandra Byers

Reporter, CBC North

Alexandra Byers is an award-winning multi-platform journalist based at CBC in Whitehorse. She moved to the Yukon from Uganda, where she had been a freelance journalist and video producer. Prior to that she produced investigative and breaking news with the CBC News Investigative Unit and CBC News Network in Toronto.

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