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Legal issues remain in dog rescue case

FERRISBURGH — Ferrisburgh officials said at the Oct. 2 selectboard meeting that although Sand Road dog rescuer Sheila McGregor has moved her controversial dog-rescuing operation to Williamstown, legal issues between her and the town remain.
McGregor last month confirmed to the Independent she moved on Sept. 1 to Williamstown to a 30-acre property, where according to her Facebook page she will add boarding to her Heidi’s Haven rescue operation. Neighbors had complained for years about noise and odors generated by up to 30 dogs on her 1-acre Sand Road lot and in her 912-square-foot ranch home with an attached garage and shed.
McGregor this summer appealed to the Vermont Board of Health regarding conditions imposed by a town board of health intended to rid the property of a rat infestation, and also appealed to Environmental Court a Ferrisburgh zoning violation notice that insisted she needed a permit to run her rescue operation.
Ferrisburgh selectboard Chair Rick Ebel said the town’s health officers had inspected the property on Oct. 2. An Oct. 16 report will reveal if all the health-order conditions listed in a town board of health order against McGregor can be lifted.
Ebel said he was “hopeful” about the results of the inspection, in part because it was his understanding McGregor and her husband were renovating the home to serve as a rental.
At last week’s selectboard meeting Ferrisburgh zoning administrator Bonnie Barnes also said it was up to McGregor to formally withdraw her court appeal, and suggested the town could waive fees and penalties if she did so.
McGregor did not respond before deadline to a message from the Independent seeking comment on her intentions.
Barnes said even if McGregor returned now her rescue operation could no longer be grandfathered, as McGregor maintained before she was, because of the halt in doing business. A change in the town’s dog ordinance adding rescue operations to the list of legal dog owners is also in effect, she said, and the town could better control the situation.
“It would be like starting over, essentially,” Barnes said.
Ebel said he is happy to hear that McGregor has found a more appropriate location for her calling.
“It’s a much better setting for her to maintain the rescue operation that is near and dear to her,” he said.
Ebel also spoke to several of her former neighbors in attendance at last Tuesday’s selectboard meeting, as they have been faithfully for most of this year as the selectboard and town officials have dealt with their complaints.
“I appreciate your hanging in there,” Ebel said. “We have kept it on the agenda, and we will until we have closure in the matter.”

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