Controversial Ferrisburgh dog rescue moves to Williamstown
A Ferrisburgh dog-rescue operation targeted by local officials for allegedly violating zoning and health standards has moved, leaving the property in shambles and questions about the owner's plans.
The sound of barking dogs on Sand Road in Ferrisburgh has been silenced. Heidi's Haven claimed to rescue dogs and cats that had nowhere else to go.
Lauren Fisher owns the house next door and was one of several neighbors to alert town officials to the property. "Thirty-five dogs in 900 square-feet is not going to work," Fisher said. She says the noise and smells forced her to temporarily move out. "Between the smell, having dogs in our yard, after our daughter was born, and then the rats -- that was when we got concerned as parents."
Heidi's Haven's owner, Sheila McGregor, did not respond to calls for comment. In a Facebook post, she says her operation has moved to a new, bigger location in Williamstown.
Ferrisburgh Selectboard Chair Rick Ebel says the health orders and zoning violations against McGregor are on hold since the operation has left the town. "As we understand now, has moved or in the process of that, so we have agreed to put a stay on those appeals -- the hearings that would occur at the state level," he said.
But Ebel says McGreagor is not off the hook. "The town will check in and make sure that health order has been followed in its entirety," he said.
Back on Sand Road, Fisher says rats have caused hundreds of dollars of damage to her property. "There is still a large pile of dog feces in the back. There is still stuff all over the yard. We want to make sure she is actually leaving," she said.
Fisher says her family has spent the last few weeks living at her mother's house to escape Heidi's Haven. She hopes it's cleaned up soon so she can move back home.
Williamstown officials said they were aware of Heidi's Haven's move and confirmed McGregor did buy a former rescue operation called Random Rescue. The town clerk says Williamstown has no zoning regulations, but if Heidi's Haven gets out of control they will turn to the state for help.