Saved: Animal lovers save Sheffield sanctuary

Celebrating: Jane Wright and Pat Hartley at Mill House Animal Sanctuary.
Celebrating: Jane Wright and Pat Hartley at Mill House Animal Sanctuary.
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ABANDONED dogs at a Sheffield animal sanctuary have been moved off death row just in time for Christmas - thanks to thousands of readers who found out about their plight thanks to The Star.

Mill House Animal Sanctuary in Fulwood was facing a bleak decision after a single neighbour complained the dogs’ barking was too noisy.

A council noise abatement order meant the sanctuary had to erect a £2,000 soundproof fence – something its elderly owners could not afford – or have the dogs put down.

Now, since The Star publicised their story, animal lovers from around the globe have pledged money to save the dogs’ lives.

The sanctuary’s owners, twin sisters Pat Hartley and Jane Wright, both 70, say they have been inundated with support.

Pat said: “It’s been overwhelming. I don’t think the dogs will be put down now.”

The sanctuary shot to national attention after The Star revealed it had been slapped with a court order, sparked by a single complaint that the noise of its dogs’ barking was ‘excessive’.

The sanctuary’s owners now hope they will not have to put any dogs down, and that they will be able to afford a soundproof fence - the £2,000 solution suggested by Sheffield Council for the women to comply with the noise abatement order.

Pat said: “The phone has not stopped ringing since 6.30 each morning – it’s been overwhelming.

“I think we will get enough money to buy the fence – quite a lot of people have pledged to send us money.

“I’m very grateful to everyone who has offered their support. You don’t realise how nice a lot of people are.

“I don’t think the dogs will be put down now.”

More than 300 people have signed an online petition urging the council to “give the sanctuary a fair chance”.

The sisters may even renew their court appeal against the order, abandoned due to a lack of funds, after a firm of lawyers also came forward offering free legal help.

Jane added: “Lawyers have come forward to offer pro bono assistance and help so they might be able to help us fight the order – I just don’t think it is fair. The complainant says it is noisy all the time, and it isn’t.”

The complaint came from the sanctuary’s neighbour Bryan Longstone-Hull, aged 73. He has lived beside the farm for 43 years and claimed noise was causing his family nights of sleeplessness and that dogs would ‘howl’ for hours on end.

He said he approached the sisters but nothing was done, and he had no option but to file a report.

The council placed noise measuring equipment in his home for 10 days before deeming the sound levels ‘excessive’ and issuing the order.

Retired manager Mr Longstone-Hull - who adopted one of his own nine pets, a dog, from the sanctuary and whose daughter volunteered there, said: “We just couldn’t take it any more.

“I would absolutely never want to see an animal put down. I don’t want that place to shut. The fact is we do care about animals, very much so.”

Mr Longstone-Hull added the sanctuary had been quieter in recent weeks and suggested the sisters should move some of their dogs to a farm they own in Penistone.

Pat said the Penistone property is already home to 12 dogs, plus horses, and they could not house any more there or afford additional insurance.