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Notorious house of barking dogs shuttered: 18 dogs put into shelters

A residence on North Ferry Road, which has been the subject of complaints from neighbors for years about multiple dogs barking and howling at all hours of the day and night, was shuttered by the Shelter Island Police and Building departments Thursday, and 18 dogs were removed and put into shelters.

Det. Sgt. Jack Thilberg said that the Town executed a court-ordered search warrant on 26 North Ferry Road at 11 a.m., Thursday. The 18 dogs were seized under the warrant for Shelter Island Town Code and New York State Agricultural and Markets Law violations.

In addition, the Town’s building inspector determined the residence to be unsafe for entry and put up placards saying the residence was not to be occupied.

According to police reports, the animals were transported by the Town Highway Department to three shelters on Long Island, to be “examined and treated as needed.”

Det. Sgt. Thilberg noted that the Town Code states that “the life, health or well-being of any person or animal, or upon a showing that a dog or dogs have been charged with three or more violations of this chapter within 30 days … any Court of competent jurisdiction may grant access onto and in to private property for the purpose of investigating or seizing any dog or dogs in violation of this chapter.” And there had been three summonses for barking dogs within the past 30 days.

Det. Sgt. Thilberg characterized the investigation as “active,” and police are “receiving assistance from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office,” as well as  the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Town Attorney’s office.

Two years ago, residents packed a Town Board meeting to air complaints about hearing barking, howling, yelping, whining — constantly — for years at the North Ferry Road residence,

“It’s torture,” one person told the board about more than 20 years of dogs barking day and night. A man who manages a business nearby said the same, and they were backed up by Police Chief Jim Read.

“This isn’t normal,” one neighbor put in. “It’s at a scale most people would not believe. It can go on for hours all night.”

Neighbors of the residence reiterated that it wasn’t just an occasional bit of barking, but something that is relentless and troubling. There were suggestions by neighbors then that there was abuse of the animals.