MORE than a dozen abandoned dogs being cared for at one of Sheffield’s oldest pet sanctuaries are facing the death sentence – because they bark too loudly.
A total of 17 dogs at the Mill House Animal Sanctuary in Mayfield Road, Fulwood, could be destroyed after the owners were slapped with a court order by Sheffield Council because of one complaint.
Heartbroken sisters Pat Hartley, aged 70, and her twin Jane, who have run the sanctuary for 64 years said they could not afford to fight the order.
They fear they could be forced to put the dogs down and even close for good.
Pat said: “Mill House Sanctuary has a no destruction policy.
“But as it stands we will be forced to have to put the dogs down and we could even close for good.”
The order was made after the council received a single complaint that the dogs were making excessive noise – the first ever made against the sanctuary in more than six decades.
A council spokesman said: “A noise abatement order has been issued against the animal sanctuary.
“The owners initially appealed and then withdrew their appeal.
“We are now working with the owners to help them comply with the notice.”
Mill House, a registered charity which relies entirely upon donations, has taken in all types of animals including dogs, cats, chickens, cows, ducks, pigeons, pigs and horses.
The sisters take in abandoned animals from all around the country – from the south coast to the Orkneys.
But today Pat said she was being forced to turn needy animals away.
She said they had to drop their appeal because it was costing too much money to cover the legal costs.
Pat said: “The sanctuary relies on financial contributions to help us care for the animals.
“We have insufficient funds to pay for a lengthy legal fight and feel it is better spent on caring for the animals.”
She added: “We have been here for 64 years and have cared for thousands of animals in that time.
“No one has ever complained before.
“We do our very best to ensure the noise is kept down. However, I have to concede that the dogs do bark from time to time.
“But it’s not like that all day every day as the person who has complained is claiming.”
The council has suggested the sisters put up a sound-proof fence around the perimeter of the sanctuary to comply with the order.
But Pat said it would cost thousands of pounds and they did not have the cash.