By Wade Linville – News Democrat
Noisy dogs at a rescue shelter have sparked controversy between an apartment building owner, residents, and the rescue shelter owner in Russellville.
Brown County Veterinary Services vet-tech Jennifer Crooker operates the rescue shelter out of her home. She told council that she is offering a service to the community by keeping stray dogs off the village streets and caring for the animals.
However, the noisy canines have angered some residents and one property owner enough that they appeared at Tuesday’s village council meeting to voice their concerns with hopes of stopping the noise.
“There has to be something that can be done. I’m losing tenants,” said Russellville apartment building owner Mark Klump as he addressed council during the April 12 meeting.
“If I was to come up and put a radio on the porch and blare it all night long, you don’t think the officer would come and make me stop the noise? They would! So why is that different?” said Klump. “The noise is non-stop 24-7. I keep hearing there’s nothing we can do about it, it’s in the Ohio Revised Code, but you have the authority to change that.”
Crooker wasn’t present at the April 12 Village of Russellville Council Meeting, but The Brown County Press was able to contact her the following day.
Crooker said her dogs are brought inside by 10 p.m. each night as long as she is at home. Her entire property at her home/rescue shelter is also covered by a privacy fence.
“I took extra precautions not only for the safety of the dogs, but also for people who pass by,” said Crooker. “They should be thanking me. I do my fair share of giving and doing for dogs in our community, and cats too. I try to keep the dogs (at the shelter) quiet. I don’t like the barking either, but that’s what dogs do.”
According to Crooker, the dogs at her shelter cannot be kept indoors at all times because they need to be let outdoors in her backyard for exercise, as well as to defecate and urinate.
Crooker said her shelter could be housing as little as 10 dogs at a time or as many as 30 with all animals completely vetted, spayed or neutered, and well cared for.
“This is what I love to do and everything I’m doing is perfectly legal,” said Crooker. “This is my life.”
Crooker has been working as a vet-tech/animal rescuer for 11 years.
The noise ordinance currently on record in the village does not include any restrictions on noisy dogs. After consulting with village solicitor David Grimes, village officials found that even if a new noise ordinance were passed or the current one revised to include restrictions on noisy dogs, the rescue shelter that was licensed prior to a change in the noise ordinance would not be affected.
Russellville Mayor Amy Rau responded to Klump’s concerns, stating that the dog rescue shelter would be “grandfathered in” even if the village passed a new noise ordinance that included a restriction on noisy canines.
Crooker’s rescue shelter for dogs and cats is registered through the Ohio Department of Agriculture and is approved as a 501-C3 tax exempt, non-profit organization.
“We’re taking dogs off of the streets that would have reproduced, and we are spaying or neutering them and giving them the care that they need,” said Crooker.
According to Klump and some of his tenants who were present at Tuesday’s village council meeting, not only has noise become a problem for those in proximity of the home/rescue shelter, but so has the odor from the feces of the many dogs at the shelter.
“It was a nice, quiet, peaceful neighborhood when I moved in. I moved in because it was nice and quiet. The smell, the dog feces, and the ruckus that goes on all of the time are absolutely ridiculous,” said Gerald Jones, a four-year tenant of one of Klump’s apartments, as he addressed the village council during Tuesday’s meeting. “Now, I’ve considered moving out, and Mark loses because of that. Mark is the best landlord I’ve ever been around…pure and simple.”
One of Klump’s tenants pointed out that the majority of the time there are more than a dozen dogs at the rescue shelter.
“It’s not one dog…she has dozens and dozens of dogs,” said one neighbor to the dog rescue shelter, which is located on East Main Street in Russellville.
“You can’t even open your windows because they bark all night,” said Russellville resident Joan Yates.
“I play music at nights so I can sleep and I can still hear the dogs over my music,” Jones explained.
England pointed out to the angry citizens and property owner that, while there was little to nothing council members can do to help with the noisy dog issue at the shelter, there may be something they can as a property owner and renters.
He suggested they seek legal counsel and village officials also recommended gathering a petition of signatures from those in the village who claim they have suffered or are displeased with the noise caused by the dogs at the shelter.