Hunt in the doghouse over howling hounds
A JUDGE has ordered the closure of the Carbery Hunt kennels in Bandon, Co Cork, after people living nearby complained that the howling of the hounds was keeping them awake.
Bandon District Court heard that piped music and electronic “bark busting” devices had been introduced to try to keep the dogs quiet. However, residents said the howling had continued.
The kennels have been located at the Old Military Barrack Mill for the past 80 years.
Houndsman John Roche said the dogs had been played pop music and talk radio shows, including the Ray D’Arcy Show, in a bid to distract them. The hunt had installed a high-pitched electronic dog silencer, the Bark Buster, but it was blown off a wall by the wind and chewed up by the dogs. Higher-powered devices were sourced and installed and “seemed to have an effect”, according to Mr Roche.
“When the hounds would bark it triggered something in their head – they would turn around and look at the device on the wall and stop barking,” he said.
Unemployed plasterer John Burke, whose apartment overlooks the kennels, took the case against the Carbery Hunt and was backed up by a number of residents.
“The odd night I’d get to sleep but I’m woken most nights by the dogs howling. It’s like a fire brigade the way it goes on. My sleep pattern is all over the place,” he told the court.
Another resident, Tom Glover, said he was constantly woken by the dogs howling between 3am and 6am. “Once one starts they all howl. It’s very annoying.”
Ray Boland, representing the Carbery Hunt, asked Mr Glover if he ever got used to the noise enough to sleep through it, like birdsong at dawn, to which Mr Glover replied: “The birds are singing, the dogs are howling.”
Representing Mr Burke, Diane Hallahan said none of the residents noticed any improvement since the Carbery Hunt moved to keep the noise down last January.
Mr Burke continued to lose sleep and was disturbed by the dogs on 22 nights during the month of May.
Directing the kennels to close, Judge Aeneas McCarthy said the noise of the dogs could not continue “cheek by jowl” with the residents of the Mill Court sheltered housing scheme.
“I don’t think there is any other practical measure, apart from surgically removing the hounds’ vocal cords, which cannot be done as it would defeat their purpose.
“It’s the only way to defeat this nuisance,” he said.
Mr Boland, who previously estimated the cost of moving the hunt premises at €70,000, indicated that his client was likely to appeal the decision.