Neighbours in court to shut down noisy Yukon kennel

Shelley Cuthbert's neighbours say her kennel is a constant, noisy disturbance that threatens their safety. 'Is it my kid that has to be sacrificed before somebody realizes this is an inappropriate location for this facility?' one neighbour asked.

'Is it my kid that has to be sacrificed before somebody realizes this is an inappropriate location?'

Shelley Cuthbert at her kennel in Tagish last year. A group of her neighbours complain that the facility disturbs their peace, and threatens their safety. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

A Tagish, Yukon, kennel owner is defending herself in court this week, against a group of neighbours who want to shut down her business.

Shelley Cuthbert's neighbours say her kennel is a constant, noisy disturbance that threatens their safety, and keeps them from enjoying their rural properties.

In testimony on Tuesday, neighbour Anne Middler described feeling terrorized by the barking, aggressive dogs penned on Cuthbert's property. Middler broke down in tears and said she's scared for her daughter's safety, if any dogs were to get loose.

"Is it my kid that has to be sacrificed before somebody realizes this is an inappropriate location for this facility?" Middler asked.

Middler and the other neighbours are asking the Yukon Territorial Court to grant an injunction against Cuthbert. That would put a strict limit on the number of dogs Cuthbert could have on her property, and require her to keep them indoors at night.

The neighbours' lawyer, Graham Lang, said an injunction is the only possible remedy.

Unapologetic about disturbance

A year ago, Cuthbert said she had 80 dogs on her property, and was unapologetic about any disturbance they may cause. She is representing herself in court this week.

She opened her facility, called Any Domesticated Animal Rescue and Boarding Kennels, in 2012. The neighbours say the problems began soon after, as Cuthbert took in more and more dogs.

Cuthbert said last year she had about 80 dogs on her property. Her neighbours want a court injunction to limit her to five dogs. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

She said last year that she had adopted out about 1,200 dogs.

Another neighbour, Gerald McGraw, told court that the barking coming from Cuthbert's kennel is affecting his health. He said he suffers from anxiety, and the noise keeps him up at night.

Cuthbert asked McGraw why he had never come to speak to her. He said she was not accessible, and warning signs on her property about the dogs made him afraid to approach.

The civil trial is expected to last four days. More of Cuthbert's neighbours will testify on Wednesday and Thursday.

This is Cuthbert's second trial in less than a year. In December, she was fined $3,600 for refusing to give a woman's dog back after a kennel stay.

With files from Mike Rudyk

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