Ferrisburgh woman to close down controversial dog rescue

(WCAX)
Published: Apr. 10, 2018 at 5:33 PM EDT
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A woman who runs a dog shelter out of her home in Ferrisburgh is closing it down.

We told you recently how neighbors were concerned about the number of dogs at Heidi's Haven, the smell and pests.

The town gave Sheila McGregor until April 11 to apply for a rezoning permit to allow the shelter at her home and clean up some issues that led to a rat problem.

But after 17 years, she's phasing out the shelter. She told our Galen Ettlin her passion is misunderstood.

"This has been my whole life for 35 years," McGregor said.

Since high school, McGregor has rescued dogs.

"There so many incredibly sweet animals being killed every single day," she said.

McGregor has lived at her Sand Road home in Ferrisburgh since 2001, taking in 20-30 dogs from all over the country.

In March, neighbors told WCAX News about noise, unpleasant smell and a rat infestation.

"You can hear him whine trying to get out up here," neighbor James Gallant said.

"That just doesn't seem fit for that type of service or operation," Ferrisburgh Selectboard Chair Rick Ebel said.

Jessica Daniel

says home-based foster rescues are on the rise.

"Sometimes people can get in over their heads," Daniel said.

Her shelter takes in 7-14 dogs at a time. Daniel says Vermont doesn't have statewide rules for home-based animal shelters, which can lead to conflict in towns.

"I know Sheila's heart was in the right place, and you can't ever fault that," Daniel said.

"It's heartbreaking," McGregor said. "It's my purpose for being here."

McGregor is leaving other animal lovers with one request.

"Save them because I can't," she said.

McGregor is now working to adopt out the remaining 20 or so dogs living at Heidi's Haven.

McGregor hopes one day to buy land and open up another rescue.