‘Barking mad’ fine is threat to Bedfordshire dog refuge

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A community fundraising bid has been launched to save a dog rescue centre from closure after it was ordered to pay £19,000 for being too noisy.

Retired Bedford dog warden Coral Browne was prosecuted by her own council for failing to comply with an abatement notice to stop the dogs barking at ARAS kennels.

She says the fine has placed the centre’s future under threat – a move slammed as barking mad by supporters.

They say kennels have run at the remote Kempston Hardwick site for 41 years, and ARAS has planning permission and an RSPCA licence.

Financially self-sufficient, it rehomes hundreds of abused or unwanted dogs every year.

“I’m sick with worry about the future,” said Coral, who was the local dog warden for 19 years and bought the kennels five years ago after her retirement at the age of 68.

Luton magistrates fined her £3,822 and ordered her to pay court costs of £15,000 after her guilty plea. She has until November 11 to pay.

Coral claims the complaint that prompted all the trouble came from just one or two neighbours.

“We’ve been here so long and everyone knows the good work we do,” she said.

One resident who submitted noise recordings to the council, told the T&C:”The dogs bark incessantly. It is absolute torture for all of us.

“We’ve being accused of being anti dogs but we’re all animal lovers. We don’t want the kennels closed down – we just want the barking and howling to stop.”

Coral had been given a series of noise abatement notices by Bedford Borough Council, but the court heard she failed to comply with them.

She said after the case; “Yes, dogs do bark – but we try to keep noise to an absolute minimum.”

Coral, who prides herself on never putting a dog down, finances ARAS vet and food bills by running training clubs and holding car boot sales.

Dog lovers have this week set up a crowdfunding page to help pay Coral’s fine and keep ARAS open.

You can donate via www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ARASRESCUE

One supporter said: “We need to raise enough to keep this great rescue going for many, many more years.”