Gorefield woman fights on as five-year battle to save animal rescue shelter goes to trial

PUBLISHED: 13:17 11 September 2020

Mary Higgins with some of the dogs she looks after at her animal rescue shelter near Gorefield. Picture: DAN MASON

Mary Higgins with some of the dogs she looks after at her animal rescue shelter near Gorefield. Picture: DAN MASON

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A woman who could lose her animal rescue shelter after 50 years said she is determined to continue doing the thing she loves most.

Mary Higgins with two of the dogs she looks after at her animal rescue shelter near Gorefield. Picture: DAN MASONMary Higgins with two of the dogs she looks after at her animal rescue shelter near Gorefield. Picture: DAN MASON

Mary Higgins, who runs the shelter on Elloe Bank near Gorefield, takes care of animals such as dogs, feral cats and birds ranging from five weeks to 14-years-old, who either need rehoming or retraining.

After a spell as an air mechanic in the Royal Navy, Ms Higgins moved to the area from London and looks after animals for those who are unable to take care of their pets or struggling to afford vet bills.

But despite enduring lengthy days, this is something the 70-year-old has been able to adapt to.

“I get up at 3am and finish about 10-11pm, depending on if I can get in a nap during the afternoon,” she said.

“I don’t rush; everything is taken slow and I can get on with whatever I want to do.”

In 2015, Ms Higgins received a noise abatement notice from Fenland District Council (FDC) over noise caused by her dogs, which were claimed to be barking 16 hours a day.

A court case has now been launched into the matter, which was opened at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, September 9 and has been sent to trial.

Ms Higgins fears that if she loses, this could force her to close the shelter and have all her animals put down.

“It has gone over the top,” Ms Higgins said.

“My attitude is that the dogs are not a nuisance. They don’t touch anyone else and they don’t bite.

“I’m getting my house insulated so that will help reduce the sound going through the walls.

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“The most important thing is the dogs have got to feel safe. It’s important for their own wellbeing because if they feel good in themselves, they feel healthier.

“I worry about them and that I will lose my dogs.

“If you have a talent, you should use it, and my only talent is looking after dogs. If my dogs were put down, I think I would follow very quickly.

“The dogs are my life.”

An FDC spokesperson said: ““Fenland District Council is prosecuting Mary Higgins for failure to comply with a noise abatement notice. We won’t be able to provide a comment.”

The trial is due to take place at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, September 29.

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