A couple from west Wales have been fined for the second time – because their 16 dogs are making too much noise.
Last year, Mark Stuart and Julie Ann Thompson, of Temple Cottage in Drefach Felindre, near Llandysul, were ordered to pay more than £3,000 after they were found to have failed to comply with a noise abatement notice brought by Carmarthenshire Council.
Action was taken after neighbours complained that the couple’s 16 dogs were keeping them up at all hours of the night. One resident who lived nearby told WalesOnline that “the noise levels from the dogs have been pretty incredible”.
The neighbour added that their children were struggling to get any sleep and that the issue was “causing a lot of stress”.
This led to one of the dog owners – who at one point had 18 dogs – claiming that “the only reason they do bark is if we have trespassers on the land” and adding that “there are dogs all over this area; it’s not my dogs that are making the noise”.
Despite these claims, the defendants, both aged 56, found themselves before magistrates in June 2019 after 130 recordings were submitted via the Noise App – a phone app used by the public to report noise nuisance in their local area to a local enforcement agency, in this case Carmarthenshire Council.
A petition containing 90 signatures was also handed to the council.
They were each hit with a £500 fine and ordered to pay combined costs of £2,130.26 and victim surcharges of £50 each.
Now, they have been back at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court where they were accused of failing to keep their dogs from “barking excessively”.
In mitigation, the pet owners said they had done everything in their power to stop the dogs from causing a nuisance and that in fact other people had antagonised the dogs, which in turn had led them to bark.
They also claimed that the recordings picked up by the council’s Noise App tool were very sensitive and therefore picked up other noises from a wide area, including barking from other people’s dogs.
Despite these claims, they admitted failing to comply with a noise abatement notice.
This time they were each fined £80 and ordered to pay £250 in court costs and a victim surcharge of £32.
The council said the noise coming from the couple’s property was “totally unacceptable”.
“It is very disappointing to find them back before the courts just a year later after been found guilty for the same offence,” said Philip Hughes, Carmarthenshire Council’s executive board member for public protection.
“The evidence clearly shows that there was a significant amount of continuing disturbance caused by the barking throughout the day and night and the pair failed to keep their dogs from barking under control. These noise levels are totally unacceptable and have caused a lot of stress for the residents for a considerable length of time.”