News In Focus
Owner of 46 dogs allowed to keep "family" lifestyle
26 September 2012
The owner of a pack of 46 German shepherd dogs has won a legal fight with a local council that wanted to restrict the number of animals he kept, after a sheriff supported his human right to a private and family life.
Andrew Debidin, a former celebrity hairdresser, moved in 2006 to a site near Rothiemay in Moray after Highland Council obtained an antisocial behaviour order against him at his previous home in Ardersier. He now lives on a site including several caravans and 17 kennels. After receiving complaints from owners of one neighbouring property 300 yards away and another within half a mile, about the noise of dog barking, Moray Council also applied for an ASBO that would restrict to four the number of dogs kept on site.
In a judgment issued yesterday, however, Sheriff Susan Raeburn QC said that Mr Debidin, who slept together with his dogs, had taken up a lifestyle devoted to his dogs. Although unusual and perhaps even unsavoury to some, it was "deserving of respect" under article 8 of the European Convention, whether or not it fell within the legal definition of "famiy life", and no justification had been shown for interfering with it.
She also ruled that the council could not rely on a report relating to the property 300 yards away because it was actually over the border in Aberdeenshire, and that the council had adopted the wrong model for assessing noise pollution in choosing one for rating industrial noise in mixed industrial and residential areas.
David and Morag Duncan, the couple within the half mile distance, had given evidence of disturbed sleep and of finding the noise "exhausting and depressing".
Councillor Alan Wright, leader of Moray Council, said the decision was "a clear demonstration of what is wrong with human rights legislation".