Dog breeding facility receives no public support at discussion forum

APPLICANT: John Grima (right) with Rockley Valley Park dog breeding manager Peter Nobbs and dog Milo at the proposed site, where they've staked out the dimensions for the facility. Photo: RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN 120717rcdog1
APPLICANT: John Grima (right) with Rockley Valley Park dog breeding manager Peter Nobbs and dog Milo at the proposed site, where they've staked out the dimensions for the facility. Photo: RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN 120717rcdog1

PLANS for a dog breeding facility at Fosters Valley drew criticism at Bathurst Regional Council's discussion forum on Wednesday.

The forum invited members of the public to comment on the proposal before councillors vote on whether or not to approve the development application. 

If approved, the breeding facility would be built on a parcel of land at 1557 Rockley Road, Fosters Valley

It would include more than 40 kennels for mating, whelping and general housing, two dog socialisation areas and a grooming shed. 

The development would also re-purpose the existing dwelling and sheds, turning them into a residence for the dog breeding manager, training area and dog hospital and quarantine room. 

At the forum, one of those against the proposal was Terry Lane, who owns a neighbouring property. 

Mr Lane took issue with several elements of the development application, including the noise that would be produced from the breeding facility, water usage and the risk posed to the koala population. 

He said the acoustic report carried out could not be accurate because of the location of the sensors when the testing was done.

Noise aside, he said the main issue was water. 

In the development application, the daily water usage is estimated at 400 litres.

Mr Lane calculated that the expected annual usage combined with annual rainfall for area would produce 278,000L, "all of which flows onto our property at two points".

"From my reading, the proposed evaporation system outlined in the application would be woefully inadequate to handle anything like this volume," he said

Finally, Mr Lane said that the koala habitat may not be directly located within the proposed development, but he had seen one as recently as November 29, just 200 metres from the site. 

He also noted that the facility would be near koala feed trees. 

Another person criticising the proposed development was Glenys Miller, who traveled all the way from Sydney to speak at the discussion forum.

Her concern was the welfare of the dogs that would be bred at the facility once they were given homes. 

“I’m hear because of the RSPCA statement that today, by their statistics, we have far too many dogs bred,” Ms Miller said.

“The euthanasia level, although it was decreased in the 2015-16 bracket, we’re still euthanising, out of 45,000 dogs, 5872.”

She said the developer’s Kellyville Pets store will feed six new suburbs west of it, where the houses are enormous, but have little in the way of backyards.

“They will be bred in your backyard, but the problem will transfer to Sydney and you will not see the problems down there,” she said. 

Prior to the discussion forum, the development application was put on public display for submissions to be made.

There were 37 submissions received, only two of which were from the Bathurst area, which commented on ethics of animal breeding facilities, noise, effluent disposal, pollution of water, the use of a bore contrary to license and the safety of native wildlife and livestock on adjoining properties. 

The developer, John Grima, and the town planner he engaged for the project, Warrick Gosling, both attended the forum to respond to the issues raised.

On the issue of ethics, he said that Rockley Valley Park would meet the highest standards of care for the dogs bred.

“We have a strong welfare culture and strive to set new standards for animal welfare through initiatives such as our educational courses to promote responsible pet ownership, especially first-time pet owners, in our purpose-built training room,” he said.

“I also sit on the Pet Industry Association board and have a personal mission to greatly improve standards within both the retail and breeding sectors of the pet industry.” 

On the issue of the koala habitat, Mr Gosling said there would be several barriers in place to discourage koalas coming near the facility and prevent the dogs from getting near one if it were to breach any of the barriers. 

“If a koala is seen, then we will call WIRES and have that koala relocated in a proper manner,” he said.