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Animal shelter raises a stink in Oyster River

Don’t ask to see Dawn Roberts’ latest photographic efforts.

“What, you don’t want to see more pictures of cat poo?” she asks in jest.

The Oyster River resident isn’t going out of her way to take photos of feline faeces, it just happens to be all over her yard, “And it’s not from my cat!” she states, as she continues to document the evidence.

Roberts and husband Ralph live on Lambeth Road, and they say the “culprit cats” are from their next door neighbour who operates a dog and cat rescue shelter.

Ever since they moved in last year, the Roberts say there’s been a constant parade of cats prowling the neighbourhood and the problem only becomes worse when the neighbour’s away and the dogs begin barking.

“I don’t know how many dogs she keeps? You hear ‘yap, yap, yap,’ for hours on end and nobody wants to do anything,” says Roberts.

It’s not just the Roberts complaining about the Lambeth Road location, believed to be the shelter for Newbark Canine Rescue and Rehoming Society and the Kitty Cat PAL Society. Ken Collins lives down the street and is just as fed up.

“Nobody can get any satisfaction…we need some closure to this disgusting situation,” he wrote in a May 15 letter sent to various authorities.

It’s not just cat faeces and barking dogs. Roberts, Collins and at least one other neighbour say they have paid hundreds of dollars in veterinary bills after their pet cats were attacked by the “rescue strays.”

“I recently received a vet bill due to one of these cats who regularly enter my back room at night for food and fight with our cat,” Collins wrote.

The Lambeth residents say the neighbour is Larissa Whitby, president of the Newbark society. Phone calls to the society were not returned and the B.C. SPCA states that both Newbark and Kitty Cat are not “SPCA-approved rescues.”

Complicating the situation, say neighbours, is Whitby’s unwillingness to discuss the complaints.

“I talked to her about the barking dogs and she says it’s our problem,” says Roberts.

Roberts has contacted the Strathcona Regional District bylaw officer who replied in a May 20 e-mail that all seems okay at the Newbark shelter.

“I have received all the information regarding your complaint with respect to your neighbour, and a site visit will be carried out,” wrote Paul Preston, the senior building official. “Please note that the regional district reviewed this property in 2012/2013 and it was determined at that time to be in compliance with the regional district’s bylaws.”

There’s no word if a further check has been carried out. In an e-mail to the Mirror, Preston replied he was unable to comment on the specific address. However, he pointed out the regional district has bylaws for both animal and noise control.

According to the Newbark website: “Newbark Rescue started in 2009 and is a foster-home-based society with volunteers from Victoria to Port Hardy, though most volunteers are in the Comox Valley and Campbell River areas.

“We help dogs from Vancouver Island and the Mainland, from California high-kill county pounds and from other far away rescue societies where we have friends. Our mandate is to help dogs find a home where they are wanted and loved, spayed or neutered and allowed to live their life as happy dogs.”

Newbark is a registered charity that had revenues and expenditures of $31,684 in the 2012 fiscal year, according to the Canada Revenue Agency. The revenue included $12,000 in government funding, $1,447 in donations and $18,237 in “other revenue.”

The Lambeth residents aren’t against the animal shelter, they just want it more secure so the cats don’t roam and to have someone there at all times so the dogs don’t bark for hours.

“This has literally raised a stink in the neighbourhood,” says Roberts. “They have to do something about it.”

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