Dog permit proves painful

A West Beach couple has vowed to fight for their family pets if the Shire of Esperance council votes against approving an exemption to allow them to keep more than two dogs.

Shire officers recommended that the council not grant the exemption to Tania Lowe and Andrew Halter during the council meeting on Tuesday, July 16.

The shire's Dogs Local Law Section 3.1 limits the number of dogs to be kept within a residential area to two dogs over the age of 3 months and offspring until they reach 3 months of age.

Under the Dog Act, an exemption may be granted subject to conditions.

The pair submitted the application to keep four dogs at the property in May, none of which had been de-sexed.

The application was advertised to surrounding neighbours, with three residents objecting to the exemption over concerns about noise, odour, lack of space and commercial breeding activity.

Ms Lowe, a registered breeder, said the pair previously had an application approved for more than two dogs in a residential area back in 2017.

According to Shire of Esperance strategic planning manager Richard Hindley, the Local Planning Scheme 24 prohibits premises in a residential area from being used for breeding, training or caring of animals for commercial purposes.

"I've looked at this in great detail and, as soon as there is a commercial activity, it cannot take place in the residential area," Mr Hindley said.

Based on the objections, shire officers recommended that, should the council be inclined to approve the application, the permit be issued under the condition that the dogs be de-sexed and not cause nuisance.

In a presentation to council, Mr Halter said the family had not received a single complaint at their previous residence and that many of the new objections were invalid.

"A shire ranger has been to the property and noted that the area was clean and suitable and the dogs were well cared for," he said.

"We instigated this application, this was not prompted by complaints.

"We have spoken to the neighbours that have objected, we know their locations and the objections based on sound and smell are questionable, given we are on an eight metre elevation.

"We have had all four dogs at the property for 12 months without complaint and there has not been any excessive barking."

Shire of Esperance chief executive officer Matthew Scott told the council that he would seek confirmation that an exemption was previously issued to the family, following a query from councillor John Parsons.

"Can we get confirmation of this previous permit? This is certainly an interesting conundrum if they had a permit in a residential area," Cr Parsons said.

Shire of Esperance deputy president Natalie Bowman also asked Mr Scott to confirm whether or not there had been any changes to the policy since 2017, when the permit was said to have been issued.

Following the meeting, Mr Halter said he did not believe the report provided a balanced view, as it omitted additional information that the pair provided during the application process.

It is understood councillors will arrange a visit to the site specified for the application.

The council is expected to reach a decision at the meeting to be held on Tuesday, July 23.