View Full Version : Canine chorus causes Coquitlam clamour

07-31-2008, 01:29 PM
Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun
Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2008

This is a shaggy dog story about choral canines, whiny coyotes, a Great Pyrenees, a Bernese Mountain Dog and other less-than-mellifluous mutts in Coquitlam.

As B.C. Supreme Court Justice Linda Loo noted in her decision on Tuesday, some people in the neighbourhood were bothered by the bellicose dogs, but not others; some by the vocal coyotes but not others; and some didn't give a hoot about the odd howl or two from either.

This is about a raucous kennel that was the city pound for a while, although George Wesley Crawford now operates it privately as Glenavon Kennels and Mountainview Kennels.

His wife, Rebecca Mary Crawford, was involved, but she died in a house fire earlier this year. Which was only the family's most recent tragedy.

Crawford, who now lives in a trailer, lost his right leg below the knee to a 2003 pit bull attack and suffered a heart attack in 2004. But that's all neither here nor there. This isn't about sympathy, Loo emphasized: "This case is about barking dogs."

The decibel problems began when residents of three houses on St. Thomas Street complained about the kennel clamour.

The city went to court seeking a declaration that Crawford was in breach of the noise bylaw and an injunction to shut him down.

Loo rejected both requests: "It is not the [Crawfords] who are making, causing, or permitting to be made or caused, the noise from the dogs. Dogs generally bark on their own accord."

The Crawfords bought the 2.6 acres at 4100 Cedar Drive in 1984 and began with breeding kennels at the north end of their property for German shepherds.

In 1998, Crawford was injured in a car accident and unable to return to his former occupation. The family decided to build a boarding kennel.

Crawford spent some $275,000 constructing a 106-foot building with kennels for up to 40 dogs at the south end of his property and opened for business on June 26, 2001.

From the summer of 2001 until April 2003, when the city opened its own shelter, the municipality boarded its stray dogs with him.

Crawford's land is next to the parking lot at the entrance to the dike along the DeBouville Slough at the intersection of Lower Victoria Drive and Cedar Drive.

The east side runs parallel to the dike; the west side is covered with trees, brush and a hydro transmission right of way; and the south abuts acres of Agricultural Land Reserve scrub brush.

Half of the kennels face the dike and the remaining face southwesterly towards St. Thomas Street.

The residents who complained live by a cul-de-sac roughly parallel to the kennels that are 120 metres away across a greenbelt.

The complaints started in July 2003: first, Karl and Gloria Rosen, then Donna Cox and Mark and Aileen Lalonde.

The Rosens fumed about "constant barking." Crawford responded by saying Rosen made rude finger gestures at him and tried to run him off the road.

The Lalondes said they heard the hounds "sporadically" throughout the day, and regularly at what seemed to be feeding time: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sometimes the baying and bawling lasted all day and into the night.

During their daughter's first birthday party in their backyard in July 2005, it sounded like a "pack of dogs coming through the fence."

That's when they really raised a stink.

As a result, the city and Crawford began working together to try to dampen the sound. But after a year of trying, legal proceedings commenced Aug. 16, 2006.

By that time, the Lalondes had moved out of their house and Robert and Diane Kinross had moved in.

"For the first couple of months, we really didn't hear the noise," Diane Kinross said. At the end of July 2006, though, when the windows were open or she was outside, it was virtual pandemonium.

The couple didn't entertain outside because of the barking.

The Kinrosses installed double-paned windows and cannot hear the dogs when they're closed.

Doug and Donna Cox gave their side as well -- he said friends used to call him "Dog Pound Doug" because of the racket.

But not all the neighbours agreed.

Frank and Wilma Adriaensen, who live four doors south of the Rosens, were not bothered by the dogs. Many nights, Adriaensen said he heard coyotes yipping.

Rhonda and Tony Nyholm live across from the Adriaensens and were not bothered by barking from the kennel either, although Rhonda Nyholm complained her neighbours' two large dogs -- a Great Pyrenees and a Bernese Mountain Dog -- could be heard incessantly day and night. About once a week, Nyholm also heard the coyotes howling away.

Eleanor Lafleur, who lives in the last house on the block, was not bothered by the kennel either.

But there is a collie dog next door that arfs all day and she's often woken up by the very scary screeching coyote sounds.

Jeff Fletcher, too, heard the dogs, but they weren't an issue.

Given the conflicting views in the neighbourhood, Loo dismissed the city's suit: "I conclude that the [Crawfords] have done everything they reasonably can to keep the noise that necessarily results from their kennels to a minimum and that they have not breached the noise bylaw.