The saga of Pets & Pats in rural Auckland has taken a new twist - a new appointment at court with fresh allegations after an Auckland Council investigation. Owner Angela Beer has spoken of her plans for change at the business and her frustration with her neighbours.
The posh doggy day-care facing an eviction challenge is also before the Environment Court for allegedly breaching its resource consent.
The business has now signalled a major change ahead with Pets & Pats owner Angela Beer telling the Herald she has identified a clear path to operating the business so it complies with the conditions to which it had agreed.
The Environment Court has a tentative July 12 hearing date pencilled in to hear Auckland Council's arguments against Pets & Pats. It follows a Christmas move by Council to restrict its dog boarding facility.
It makes for a fresh judicial appointment for Beer who this week was in the Tenancy Tribunal arguing against an eviction attempt by her landlord's agents, Barfoot & Thompson. Evidence was heard from neighbours of the impact of the noise from Pets & Pats.
The Environment Court action was also linked to neighbours' complaints with Auckland Council taking action over the number of dogs present at the rural Dairy Flat property and the times they were present. Noise was not a factor.
The doggy day-care business has a fleet of vans that collect dogs from Auckland's most sought-after suburbs for exercise in Pets & Pats manor-like grounds. The company's website says "we don't take many dogs" and those who do become "a cherished family member" at the "fun, safe, private, canine country club".
The Herald has found Auckland Council went to the Environment Court just before Christmas to ask that Pets & Pats be ordered to stick to its resource consent.
That meant it was allowed no more than 12 dogs staying overnight or more than 60 during the day. It also had to stick to the resource consent rules which restricted dog visits to 11am to 1.30pm between November and April. Outside those months the allowed time was between 11am to 2.30pm.
In a December 23 ruling, Chief Environment Court Judge David Kirkpatrick rejected Auckland Council's bid on the basis it was too close to Christmas and people who had their dogs booked to stay over holidays would be inconvenienced.
The council also sought to have an order enforced that Pets & Pats "provide adequate fencing of the dog enclosure and exercise areas … which is sufficient to ensure that no dogs escape the enclosure and exercise areas". The fencing also had to separate the dogs from livestock on neighbouring properties, as set out in the resource consent.
"I acknowledge that this decision not to grant interim orders will be disappointing for the neighbours who appear to have suffered adverse effects relating to the non-compliance," said the judge.
By not making the order, the judge said he wasn't "condoning or tolerating the respondents' non-compliance with their consent".
Judge Kirkpatrick said the application was one-sided and Pets & Pats had not been given any time to prepare a defence.
The court document said a retrospective resource consent was granted in September 2017 and that Pets & Pats agreed the business "has expanded beyond what was consented".
Beer confirmed to the Herald her business had started in 2015 without a resource consent and had exceeded the consent it was retrospectively granted in September 2017.
She said a new resource consent had been sought.
"We do make the concession we are outside our operating hours."
Instead, she said most dogs were present between 9.30am and 2pm.
Beer said she had a new proposal to put to Auckland Council which she believed removed the need for a resource consent. She said she had advice that bringing in the boundary of Pets & Pats operation by 20m meant it would not require a resource consent to run dogs on the property.
She said she had also lined up a new property to take the boarding dogs which would deal with complaints she was in breach of a covenant on the land which forbade kennels.
Beer said the plan, if carried out, would not happen immediately and would not affect the service offered to clients.
"We will always have a beautiful, safe farm staffed 24/7 for our lodging and daycare dogs."
Beer said she was victim to a campaign by neighbours whose complaints to council about noise had not been substantiated with evidence. "There is no proof around the noise." She said the new resource consent application showed there was no adverse impact on the environment or traffic.
She said she was frustrated to be facing enforcement action from Auckland Council rather than support for providing a service needed by inner-city dog owners.
She said central Auckland parks were no longer safe spaces for dogs to exercise and Pets & Pats offered the chance for urban dogs to experience rural life.
The number of dog owners had grown during lockdowns since the pandemic began, she said. "It's almost like we are becoming an essential service."
A spokeswoman for Auckland Council said: "The council can confirm that we are currently investigating alleged resource consent breaches at this property, in addition to having matters before the Environment Court."
She said the existing consent allowed for a "boutique" field trip activity for dogs and a dog boarding facility, while also granting permission for one of the buildings on the property to be used as housing for three staff.
The spokeswoman said an application for an updated resource consent had been submitted in November but was on hold awaiting further information.