A Rockholds couple has filed a lawsuit claiming that noise from the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter is so annoying that they can’t sleep at nights, and they are asking the court to order the shelter to no longer keep animals in outdoor kennels in order to solve the problem.
James and Phyllis Walters live at 3285 Meadow Creek Road, about 600 feet from the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter. On Tuesday, James Walter’s said he agreed to file the lawsuit in Whitley Circuit Court last week as a last resort.
"I’ve talked to them a dozen times," Walters said. "They don’t do nothing … It’s just awful. You can’t sleep at night. You can’t do nothing. The dogs just keep barking, and barking and barking."
Walters said he paid the Corbin law firm of Copeland and Romines $750 to file the lawsuit.
"That’s a lot just to get a dog hushed up, but I don’t know what else to do."
At issue is the shelter’s policy of storing some dogs in outdoor chain link fenced kennels throughout the day and overnight. The barking, the Walters say, is persistent and annoying.
"The incessant, boisterous barking has caused Plaintiffs severe insomnia, injury to their mental health, substantial annoyance and a decrease in fair market value of their property," the lawsuit reads.
The civil complaint goes on to say that shelter employees have intentionally and negligently placed dogs in the open kennels "where the barking is amplified and the Defendant will continue to do so without this Court’s intervention…"
Deanna Myers, Executive Director of the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter, said Tuesday that the shelter does it’s best to keep its animals inside, particularly in the evening hours, but that often it is not feasible. She said on a normal night, four to five animals would be kept in outside kennels. Most are quarantined animals that must remain apart from the general population of animals at the shelter. A small number are dogs available for adoption.
Animals are brought outside during the daytime hours for viewing by potential pet owners.
"If someone comes to look at them, they all bark. It’s hard to stop that," Myers said. "We are located out in the county … in the boondocks, so to speak … so that we don’t bother people."
Myers said there is no ordinance in the county regarding barking dogs. She said she’s spoken with Phyllis Walters on several occasions about the issue and that, in response, the Shelter has begun to euthanize more animals in an effort to cut down on those kept outdoors.
"We don’t keep anything extra for this reason other than what we have to," Myers said. "There is nothing really that we can do any different. We sure don’t want any trouble. We are here for the good of the community and these animals."
Myers said the shelter accepts about 60 animals a day, and takes in over 800 animals a month.
"Other than just euthanizing every animal that comes through the door, I don’t know what to do."
The shelter’s Board of Directors has been notified of the situation, Myers said. She did not know who would represent the shelter in defending the lawsuit.
The Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter actually serves three counties: Knox, Whitley and McCreary. It receives funding from all three counties, and some cities in those counties.