Lawsuit against Duke’s dog training facility in Freedom seeks to shutter the business

Image of dozens of residents at Freedom Town Hall
Dozens of Freedom Township residents attended the July 1, 2021, meeting to protest the township's decisions regarding a local business. Lyndsey Brennan/The Portager

A Freedom Township woman is suing to shut down the dog training business next door to her house, calling it a nuisance and seeking $20,000 plus punitive damages.

Michelle Filler, owner and operator of Duke’s K9 Dash N’ Splash, has weathered multiple controversies over the zoning of her property at 6948 State Route 303 since she bought it three years ago.

Her dog training facility quickly came under scrutiny by township zoning officials after a neighbor lodged complaints with the township and the county health department about sanitation issues.

That led to a series of legal actions culminating in Filler receiving zoning approval for a 60-by-100-foot building she built with plans to use it to train and board dogs, and to store agricultural products and equipment, she said.

Filler’s neighbor, Dorothy Maur, isn’t done fighting. On Aug. 25, she filed a lawsuit in Portage County Common Pleas Court, alleging Filler’s business is a nuisance, operates beyond its property line, caused Maur emotional distress and violates a township zoning resolution.

The lawsuit claims that Filler “frequently and continuously” disturbs and frightens Maur with loud noises and acts of intimidation, that Duke’s causes “significant and disturbing traffic congestion” on and around state Route 303 and near Maur’s property, and that Filler frequently aims amplified music at Maur’s home.

Maur also alleges that Filler permits people to light fireworks and to discharge firearms on a makeshift firing range on her property.

Read the complaint here.

Filler declined an interview, saying she is “far too busy to even comment on their continued nonsense.” 

“I am not a quitter,” Filler said in a previous article detailing the long standoff over Duke’s. “I started my own organization in March of 2022, International Dog Sports, to be our sanctioning dog diving organization. Right now we have 23 facilities and 2,000 registered dogs.”

Akron attorney Al Schrader, who is representing Maur, did not respond to The Portager’s request for comment.

Maur asked the court to issue a mandatory injunction prohibiting Filler from operating Duke’s, along with other activities, including permitting overnight campers, lighting fireworks, operating firearms and playing loud music near Maur’s home.

She is also seeking $20,000 in compensatory damages, court costs and all other costs of filing the lawsuit, plus unspecified punitive damages.

According to Maur, the court should also declare that Filler doesn’t use her property for “any approved agricultural purposes,” and to revoke the agricultural variance the township zoning inspector “erroneously” granted Filler for her building, which the lawsuit states is used for commercial, not agricultural purposes.

+ posts

Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.