Hamilton's Christine Cave is upset a Hamilton City Council animal control officer, clothed in a Kevlar vest, entered her property to investigate a complaint about her rooster's alleged nuisance crowing.
She is outraged at what she says were 'intimidating and threatening tactics'.
Christine, a Manning St resident of 25 years, has kept poultry on her property for about 15 years. She says one complaint from a nearby resident was resolved amicably.
Chun Lin, a student who lives at the property, was home last Wednesday when she saw an animal control officer at the rear of the property. She said he was "scary and intimidating". Chun phoned Christine who came home and asked the officer to leave. Christine said the officer - Warwick - was "aggressive" toward her.
Hamilton City Council animal education and control officers team leader Peter Crocker told Hamilton News his department had received a complaint about the rooster's crowing being a nuisance. '
Christine says "an inflammatory letter" was sent to surrounding neighbours stating a complaint was received by the animal education and control unit, "alleging a nuisance is being created by the persistent, loud crowing/clucking from poultry".
Neighbour Pam McAdam, who received a copy of the letter, didn't realise Christine still kept poultry. "I don't hear them."
Christine says the rooster is placed into a box large enough to nest in at night as a "preventative measure".
"I'm just fighting for some common sense and community spirit.
"Why can't neighbours sort these issues for themselves and failing that, council could mediate. There's nothing illegal about owning a rooster so they (animal education and control officers) have no business being here."
She said the officer accessing her property was "an excessive use of their power". She is demanding a public apology from council and will be asking it to review the processes around complaints of this nature. She says officers shouldn't be allowed to enter a person's property unless all avenues to discuss and mediate over the complaint have been exhausted.
In a communication with the council, Christine says her concerns are at 'the processes your overzealous staff used in handling this complaint and the inappropriateness of invoking the full extent of your legal rights to enter a private property without first evaluating and defining the "nuisance' and engaging in a discussion or mediation process'.
"Sending a 'SWAT' team and threatening me with the police was a bit of an overkill, don't you think? she wrote.
Peter Crocker told Christine he would arrange to meet her this week to discuss the complaint and the process going forward.
He said animal education and control officers are warranted and as such can legally access a property to investigate a complaint. Peter said it was "a sign of the times" that officers had to wear Kevlar vests.
A written statement from Hamilton City Council said animal education and control is conducting an investigation into alleged breaches of the Hamilton City Animal Nuisance Bylaw 2008.
"The standard process in investigations of this nature is for an Animal Education and Control officer to visit the property and discuss the situation with the occupant."
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