FARMINGTON — A couple who live next door to a sled dog kennel on Whittier Road have filed a lawsuit in Franklin County Superior Court, claiming damages for the emotional distress being caused by the repeated barking and howling of the 17 canines.
The suit was filed by David and Jamie Lucas who live at 828 Whittier Road. The defendants are dog owner Jean Perron and the owner of property at 822 Whittier Road, Rudolph Dyer, of Farmington.
Perron moved into the neighborhood in 2009 with her dogs and built a kennel about 200 feet from the Lucas home, according to the complaint. Ever since, the dogs have barked and howled on numerous occasions throughout the day and night making noise that can be heard inside the Lucas home.
“The frequent, repeated and loud barking and howling ... of the dogs has seriously and substantially interfered with the (Lucas') use and enjoyment of their home and land,” wrote attorney David Sanders, who represents the Lucas family.
The Lucases repeatedly asked Perron to control her dogs and do something about the barking, according to the complaint. They also filed dozens of noise complaints with the Farmington Police Department and the town's animal control officer, and have kept a detailed log of the type of noise and the time it occurred.
Perron, contacted on Wednesday, declined to comment on the complaint but described media coverage of the dispute as “one-sided” and “not even the truth.”
“The whole thing has not been fair and has been very hurtful to my family,” she said.
Perron appeared in Farmington District Court earlier this spring to respond to dozens of complaints filed under the town's former and less restrictive dog barking ordinance. According to the superior court lawsuit, she admitted liability and was assessed and paid a small fine.
In March, voters at the town meeting approved a more detailed and stringent ordinance that carried harsher penalties for repeated offenses.
When the town brought Perron to court for violating the new regulations, however, a judge threw the case out because a copy of the ordinance was not included in the file, according to town officials.
It was the second time the town omitted the evidence.
On Wednesday, Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis said both instances were oversights. At the first hearing, the Farmington Police Department unintentionally did not enter the document into evidence. The second time, the attorney representing the town inadvertently neglected to provide a copy to the court.
“It was unfortunate that the same thing happened twice, but we feel in the end, a civil suit will have a greater impact on the case,” Davis said.
In related court action, earlier this month a district court judge dismissed a complaint of harassment Perron filed against Jaimie Lucas.
The suit was based on the number of times Lucas had complained about Perron's dogs, which she claimed were an invasion of privacy, Sanders said Tuesday.
District Court Judge Dan Driscoll dismissed the charges after hearing Perron's testimony and before Sanders cross-examined her, Sanders said.
“He found no basis in the facts,” the attorney said.
“(Perron) has 17 dogs. ... If you are going to open a kennel, it seems to me that the decision on where to locate it should be based on whether or not you have sufficient room around you to give you some sort of buffer,” Sanders said Tuesday. “She just moved in.”
“We want her to relocate her kennel,” he said. “All dogs bark. The problem is not the dog. The problem is the owner.”
The complaint asks the court to order Perron to reimburse the Lucases for damages and any legal fees and costs, and to provide unspecified monetary relief.