Menagerie in House

Taken from a report in the Manchester Guardian, June 1935.

Complaints of a nuisance caused by a number of monkeys, cats, dogs, and birds were made to Mr Justice Bennett in the Chancery Division when the Judge granted an injunction to Mr Harold Molins, of Mulbarton Court, Chislehurst, to restrain Mrs Alice McLaren Morrison, of Kemnal Warren (see photo below right), Chislehurst, from 'creating a nuisance by keeping dogs, cats, monkeys, and birds to the annoyance of the plaintiff'.

Kemnal WarrenMr H B Vaisey, KC, who appeared for Mr Molins, said there was no doubt that a nuisance was caused by animals and birds kept by Mrs Morrison.

Mr Justice Bennett asked why it was desired to 'restrain' birds.

Mr Vaisey: If your Lordship lived next to a cockatoo perhaps you would understand. (Laughter).

Mr Justice Bennett: There are thrushes and nightingales, whether you like it or not.

Mr Vaisey stated that there had been proceedings in the Bromley Police Court in regard to these animals, and since then there had been some mitigation of the nuisance by the removal of the larger dogs.

Mr Justice Bennett: Is the nuisance caused by the noise or smell?

Mr Vaisey: Both.

Stocked with cages

Counsel added that the house, Kemnal Warren, and other houses in the vicinity were of the residential type and, according to the evidence, Mrs Morrison had chosen to treat her house as a menagerie on a large scale.

Mr Vaisey read an affidavit sworn by Mr Molins and produced photographs of certain rooms in the house which, said counsel, were 'stocked with cages'.

Mr Justice Bennett: How many dogs are there?

Mr Vaisey repied that he thought about one hundred. Mrs Morrison, he added, also kept in the house cats, a goat, mice, guinea pigs, and other animals. The dogs kept Mr Molins awake at night, and by day they were an objectionable nuisance which had become intolerable.

Mr Vaisey said that when an inspector visited the premises he found 70 adult dogs, 11 puppies, 27 cats, 16 monkeys, 100 birds, one rat and one goat.

Mr Wynn Parry denied there was a rat.

'I am prepared to admit that', remarked Mr Vaisey amid laughter.

Mr Wynn Parry read an affidavit by Mrs Morrison in which she said she was one of the first to import Japanese spaniels to this country. She never kept animals for profit, trade, or business.

Mr Justice Bennett: The only point is whether there is a noise or smell. You cannot keep 50 dogs without there being a noise. How many dogs are there now?

Sixty six dogs

Mr Wynn Parry: I am told there are three outside and 63 inside the house. He added that he would like the Judge to hear the whole of his evidence and submissions.

Mr Justice Bennett: It is no good wasting time talking about affection for dogs and other animals. The question is whether they make a noise or not, and whether they are a nuisance.

'I propose', added the Judge, 'to grant the injunction asked for in the motion, that is, to restrain the defendant from 'keeping or suffering any dogs and other animals or birds on the premises so as to occasion a nuisance to the plaintiff. You cannot keep a menagerie and make your neighbours' lives intolerable,' the Judge added.

Mr Wynn Parry: The question is, what is my client allowed to keep?

Mr Justice Bennett: Most people keep dogs and cats and they are no nuisance to their neighbours. Your client should never have taken that number of animals in the place, and the sooner they are away the better.

Mr Wynn Parry: I am asking for your Lordship's help.

'You will not get it from me', remarked Mr Justice Bennett, 'what you will get will be law. Your client has to behave herself as other people living in the same area have to behave.'

Mr Wynn Parry said the granting of the injunction would mean the removal of every animal.
'I cannot help that ', said Mr Justice Bennett. 'It is wholly unreasonable conduct, and I am finding against her on the evidence'. He granted the injunction asked for in the terms of the notice of motion, with costs.

Lots of dogs

Image borrowed from with thanks