Court orders dog, puppy daycare centre to close due to continuous barking
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Pretoria - A pastor from Durbanville in Cape Town will now be able to prepare his sermons in peace and quiet after a court ordered the closure of a puppy and dog daycare centre from his neighbourhood.
Reverend Mark Wayne Christopher had to endure the barking and yelping coming from his neighbours’ business, known as Puppy Town, for years.
His complaints to Puppy Town owners Jolindi and Pieter Verster fell on deaf ears. Not even his complaints to the City of Cape Town that the Versters were, among other things, contravening the by-laws by looking after more than 17 dogs and puppies during the day, yielded any results.
The Versters said that they were within their rights to operate their business and that Christopher could not expect to have peace and quiet all day, especially in a street where there were also other households with dogs.
Besides, the Versters said, they did scale down a bit and were no longer hosting dog birthday parties.
Puppy Town is described as a daycare centre which, among other things, offers constant supervision, structured playtime, potty training, basic training, socialisation with different dogs, and constant feedback to the owners about their dogs.
They drop off their furry babies on their way to work and fetch them at the end of the day – an exercise which Christopher says results in a cacophony of barking all around.
He turned in desperation to the court to prohibit his neighbours from running their puppy and dog daycare from their home. He said the Versters’ business was a distraction to the peace and serenity that he was entitled to as a neighbour, and it was unlawful on several grounds.
Christopher works from home as a pastor, and requires a peaceful environment to write, research, study and counsel his congregants. His property abuts that occupied by the respondents.
There are up to 17 dogs on the property at any given time during business hours.
It is a residential property, and the dogs are accommodated in the garden. Puppy Town’s advertised operating hours are from 7am to 6pm from Monday to Friday. It also runs puppy training sessions on Saturday mornings.
Clients drop off the dogs at the property from 6.30am during the week.
One of Christopher’s arguments is that the fact that the business operates from 6.30am until 6pm was unlawful, because the property zoning permitted businesses that operate only from 8am to 5.30pm, Mondays to Fridays.
The dogs’ barking on the property triggered a cacophony of barking from all the dogs in the neighbourhood, which aggravated matters.
Videos on Puppy Town’s Facebook page also show the dogs running around the garden while barking and yelping.
According to the Versters, their business does not cause a nuisance, because the puppies are kept quiet by giving them toys to play with and dog chews to eat.
Christopher denied the dogs were kept quiet, or that it would be possible to do so by merely giving them toys and things to eat.
Christopher told the court that he had never been able to enjoy his back garden due to the constant paroxysms of barking emanating from Puppy Town. Also, if he wanted to use his back garden on a weekday evening, he had to wait until around 6.15pm or 6.30pm before the noise quietened down sufficiently.
As a result of this, he reserved the back garden area and patio for Saturday evenings or Sunday lunch.
Judge RCA Henney said this was not a case of having one or two dogs of a neighbour that would occasionally bark at a stray cat or at a stranger knocking at the door. He said the barking was clearly continuous during the day and it disturbed the peace to which the applicant is entitled.
The judge ordered that Puppy Town no longer operate.