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Victims in Florida Achieve Relief through Court Settlement
Sun-Sentinel.com - Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Written by Sallie James - November 10, 2004
CORAL SPRINGS: If Vince the Rottweiler wants to woof, it had better be for good reason. Otherwise, pet owner David Jamison may find himself dogged by complaints. Again. Jamison agreed this month to settle a months long dispute with neighbors Richard and Carole Elliott over his 160-pound pooch's booming bark. The Elliotts, who called police more than 16 times about the dog, complained so much that the matter wound up in court. Police cited Jamison three times since December as a result of the Elliotts' complaints. The Nov. 1 settlement dismisses one citation for disturbing the peace and requires Jamison to limit the hours Vince can venture outside. Jamison also must pay $1,000 in fines, plus $200 court costs.
"It was a compromise," said Jamison, 37, a corporate lawyer who claimed his 3-year-old dog had unfairly been accused of barking too much. "It's one of those unfortunate things. I live next door to a neighbor who complains."
The two citations that were upheld accuse Jamison of allowing Vince to bark excessively and disturb someone else's sleep. The Elliotts could not be reached Tuesday for comment.
The Elliotts had told police the dog "barks only a few times, enough to wake us up, and then is quiet," and had vowed to be an irritant to the city until the "irritation" that disturbed their rest was resolved. They sent a barrage of e-mails about the dog to the Coral Springs police chief, the city manager and city commissioners.
"If I could avoid being arrested for animal abuse ... I'd kill the dog to obtain some relief," the Elliotts wrote in a February e-mail to the city.
Jamison said the situation is frustrating because no other neighbors near his home in the 7500 block of Red Bay Place ever complained about the dog. He said there is only so much he can do to keep his canine quiet.
"If he does get out and he barks at something, he barks at something. He's a dog," Jamison said. According to the settlement, Jamison must limit Vince's access to his "doggy door" to between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. There's also a small provision for the unexpected. "The parties acknowledge this does not preclude Vince from barking in the case of an emergency," the settlement says.
Police Chief Roy Arigo said it's uncommon such disputes end up in court. "There was a problem and we tried to resolve the issue," Arigo said. "Hopefully neighbors could get together and try to resolve these issues before the courts and police get involved."
Webmaster's note: Better yet, how about if the city does its job and weeds out the problematic owners before it ever agrees to issue them a license for the dog. That way the victims would never have to become involved to begin with.
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