AN ANIMAL sanctuary claims it will have to move after a neighbourly dispute over barking dogs turned sour when twelve animals died after a fireworks display.

The animals were among the 650 living at animal rescue centre Retreat, in Daltons Road, Crockenhill, which cares for unwanted animals.

A dog, cat, pigeons, cockerels and a pig were among those which the centre claims died from stress caused by loud noise on November 5.

The sanctuary’s owners had been in dispute with neighbours Dean and Alison Mcleod after the couple complained about noisy dogs on the site.

Now Retreat’s owners, Billy Thompson and Neil Davies, say they have no choice but to relocate over what they deem “animal hatred”.

Mr Thompson, aged 42, who founded the centre with his partner Mr Davies, aged 46, said: “They hate animals, and threatened in August to have a huge fireworks party.

“They had an amazing firework display right by the centre. Now we have to move away, it’s unbelievable.

News Shopper: Billy Thompson with dog Ozzie, Kymm White with dog Beans and Martin Long with dog Degas

“If they’re attacking us, we can put up with it, but they’re attacking our animals. We are vegans and pacifists and we never wanted violence.”

54-year-old Pamela Webster, also from Daltons Road, looks after some chickens for the sanctuary, and said three were found dead the morning after the display.

Mrs Webster, who called the police on the night, said: “They were the most horrendous fireworks I have ever heard - they were like explosions.

“My husband went out into the field to check if the animals were distressed and a rocket came down and landed right next to him.”

Mrs Webster supports Mr Thompson and Mr Davies’ work, adding: “They are wonderful neighbours. They are kind people who just want to do good.”

A spokeswoman for West Kent Police confirmed that police were called to the scene at 8pm on Friday November 5 over concern for the welfare of animals as fireworks were being set off in a nearby garden, but that the display had stopped by 8.20pm.

Mrs Mcleod said: “We had a few fireworks for some children which was all supervised properly. It was half an hour of fun.

“The reason we moved here was for the animals and the peaceful countryside.

“We are being persecuted. People on a Facebook group have made death threats. We are going to need police protection.”

Mrs Mcleod said that she and other neighbours had held firework displays in the past.