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News of the Usual Legal Runaround


Kern County Officials Watch Passively as Dog Hoarder Ruins Health of Neighbors
A California woman is reportedly keeping up to 180 dogs in filthy conditions, jammed-in so close with human neighbors that the barking of the untrained animals now jeopardizes the health and sanity of those living nearby.

As for the negligent Neanderthals comprising the Kern County Board of Supervisors, they don't see no problem with that. Just stuff enough campaign "donations" in their pockets, and they never do.

Thirty Barking Dogs + Zero Government Response = Three Years of Torment in Pearl, Mississippi
A man in Pearl, Mississippi had been keeping up to thirty dogs that bark at every car that passes and every living thing that moves, in addition to frequently running loose in the streets.

The ordeal has drug out for three years, while all that time animal control has stalled, repeatedly telling bark abused neighbors that the city wanted to give the perpetrator more time to take care of the problem on his own.

At this point, even the dog owner, who is ill, does not want the animals on his property, and has asked the city to come pick them up. But still the bureaucrats offer only excuses for doing nothing.

Court Blocks Victim's Efforts to Find Relief in Nahant, Massachusetts
Summary: The Mills Terrace section of Nahant is plagued by a resident who is keeping two extraordinarily loud, untrained Golden Retrievers. The woman refuses to correct the problem and has declined to appear for a hearing to explain her actions to the town council. The problem has continued on for well over a year now, despite dozens of complaints from victimized neighbors, and a disturbing the peace complaint filed by the local police department.

Miraculously, the council of selectmen broke out of the victim-be-damned mentality that permeates most town councils, and passed a resolution giving the perpetrator ten days to get the dogs out of town.

However, as is common, the Lynn District Court overturned the ruling -- and those dogs are barking still.

Nahant Judge Fails to Enforce Unenforceable Ordinance as the Multiple Household Law is Again Shown For What It Is
Summary: This article is a follow-up on the news story about Nahant, Massachusetts found immediately above. In that earlier account, the town council filed a formal complaint banning a pair of constantly barking dogs from town. However, the district court overturned the ban. This article recounts the trial that followed the town council's appeal of the judge's ruling.

In the trial that followed, the court let the irresponsible dog owner off without penalty and ruled that she can continue to keep her dogs within the city limits.

Why? Because Nahant has a multiple-household-type ordinance in place. That kind of law forces the victim to serve as the judiciary catalyst that drives the legal system forward in the prosecution of the dog owner. Not only that, the multiple-household laws also dictate that the original complainant must recruit other victims from other households, and together they must provide the impetus for proving the case and convicting the perpetrator. In fact, those laws make such excessive demands on the victims that few bark-abused citizens are willing to see the gut-wrenching legal ordeal through to completion.

That is why, despite the fact that there had been dozens of formal complaints and a small army of bark-abused citizens pleading with the authorities for relief, Nahant's multiple-household-type law still failed to protect both the victims and the environment.

It proves all over again that passing a multiple household "anti-barking" law really amounts to just a little less than the total legalization of chronic barking.

Florida Police Strike a Deal Sure to Be Detrimental to the Public Health and Safety
Summary: A Palm Beach man reported to the police that his neighbor was keeping an aggressive dog that, in addition to barking continuously, ran loose, defecated in his yard, and chased his son in a menacing fashion.

Rather than treating the report as an opportunity to move against an unfit owner keeping a dangerous, disruptive animal in a residential neighborhood, the police simply arranged for the man to keep the dog on a leash until he could build a fence.

Unfortunately, tethering a belligerent, chronically barking dog is sure to make the animal more aggressive, thus, increasing the chances that he will eventually bite someone, at the same time that it escalates his already prodigious rate of barking.

The police really need to do a little better than sending out poorly trained officers who drop by just long enough to make the situation worse.

Hobart City Council Wants Victims Taken Out of Fire - Confined to Frying Pan
Summary: According to ABC Online, the City Council in Hobart City, Australia is pushing for changes in the government's Dog Control Act. It is their intention to lobby for a consecutive-disruption law.

Under the law they favor, if you live in Hobart City, even in the middle of the night, each of your neighbors will be permitted to keep a dog that barks for one full minute out of every ten. That means that, if you have five neighbors who each keep a vocal canine, legally, you can be subjected to the noise of a barking dog going off in your home five times in every ten minute period. Since each dog is allowed to bark for one full minute out of every ten, that would mean that you could be stuck with the sound of a dog screaming inside your home 50% of the time, all day and all night, and legally, under the proposed consecutive-disruption law, you would be powerless to stop it.

How about, instead, adopting a law that says simply that only quiet dogs may be kept within the city limits.

Continued Defiance of Ticketed Perp Proves the Need for an Immediate Impound Policy
Summary: A fifty-seven-year-old Englishman who, to judge by his statements, is unaware that dogs can be bark trained, is keeping four German Shepherds in a residential neighborhood in Knowsley, where the constant barking is driving his neighbors to distraction.

The city council served the villain with a noise abatement order brought under the Environmental Protection Act. When the man ignored the abatement order, £2,250 in fines and court costs were levied against him. He is also being fined an additional £100 for every day that the dogs continue to bark. However, he has defiantly declared his steadfast resolve not to comply. In the meantime, the dogs continue to bark and the suffering of his neighbors continues.

The moral to the story is this: The only thing that can truly guarantee your right to the quiet enjoyment of your property is a law mandating the quick impoundment of barking dogs whose owners who fail to take responsibility for them in a timely fashion. With the hard core incorrigibles, nothing else will produce results.

Authorities Stand by Passively as Barking Victim's Quality of Life is Body-Slammed in Shelby County, Alabama
Summary: Bill Floyd sold his house in town and bought a little piece of paradise way out in the country in Shelby County, Alabama. There he moved into a backwoods, waterfront home where his nearest neighbor was 200 feet away and life was serenely quiet. It was a world of squirrels and hummingbirds, and fishing with his three-legged dog before retiring to the back porch, where swarms of bream would swim up to be hand fed.

Then the people who owned the neighboring property put in a trailer next door, moved in a large number of pit bulls, and began breeding the animals commercially. Now, the noise level from all the barking is so extreme that Floyd can no longer relax in his home and sleep is hard to come by. To make matters worse, he is afraid that he will be unable to sell his house, since it is no longer a desirable place to live.

The police are not going to do anything about it. Animal control is not going to do anything about it. No one is going to do anything about it. In Shelby County, Alabama, you can have as many dogs as you want, and you can let them bark for as long and as loud and as often as you want. And it doesn't matter who you hurt in the process. It is all perfectly legal.

Jailing of Littleton Man Shows that Impounding Noisy Dogs is a Better Way to Go
Summary: Five years of victimization seems likely to continue for the neighbors of a North Carolina dog owner. For that length of time, James Melvin of Littleton has kept up to twenty barking dogs that have tormented his neighbors throughout the long ordeal.

Because the dog owner was known for belligerence and volatility, his neighbors were reluctant to press the matter, and because they seem to lack common sense as much as compassion, the authorities allowed the crisis to stretch on all that time.

After refusing to obey a judge's order to remove all but five of the dogs from the property, Mr. Melvin was sentenced to thirty days in the Central Prison in Littleton. Unfortunately, Melvin has now been released and, in light of the fact that he still has a large number of untrained dogs on his property, it seems unlikely that the five-year-long abuse of his victimized neighbors has yet to come to an end.

If even prison does not work with such people, one has to wonder if the public would not be better served by a policy of immediately impounding the dogs of those who refuse to behave responsibly. That appears to be the only solution that is always sure to get results.

Police Go After Threat-Making Victim While Giving the Instigating Perp a Free Pass in Mississippi
Summary: An anonymous letter was sent to a Biloxi woman, threatening to kill her barking dogs unless she quieted them. Since learning of the threatening message, the authorities have begun to look for its author, but they have taken no action against the owner of the barking dogs, to whom the letter was addressed.

Many barking dogs are themselves the victims of the irresponsible, uncaring people who keep them. So for the bark-abused neighbor to have threatened an innocent animal who is in no way to blame for his plight was wrongheaded and reprehensible. Nonetheless, shouldn't the authorities also be going after the instigating perpetrator, whose abusive behavior so unhinged her neighbor that he resorted to that sort of deplorable threat?

It is easy enough see why the victimized letter-writer did not simply go to the authorities and have them take care of the problem for him. They obviously have no interest whatsoever in delivering him from the abuse to which he is currently being subjected.

New York City Likely to Get a New, Barely Enforceable Barking Law in 2004
Summary: This article from the New Yorker On Line tells us that the current noise code for New York City states simply that "No person shall permit an animal, including a bird, under his or her control to cause unnecessary noise." According to a New York attorney specializing in dog law who was interviewed for the article, none of his dog-owning clients has ever received a ticket for keeping a noisy dog in the city, which tells you how ineffective the old ordinance has been. However, things appear to be about to get much worse for the victimized neighbors of irresponsible dog owners.

Mayor Bloomberg has proposed the adoption of a consecutive-disruption law that deems barking to be illegal only if it continues on for more than some portion of every minute for ten minutes consecutively during the day or five minutes consecutively at night. That may not sound too bad, until you realize that, under that ordinance, your neighbor can keep a barking dog that is never quiet for more than two or three minutes at a stretch ­ ever. And legally the dog can continue to bark at that rate all day and all night, every day and every night and he can keep it up forever. What's more, the new ordinance will allow every neighbor on every side of you to keep his own dog that also barks at that same prodigious rate.

The author of the article, Eric Konigsberg, seems to think that the proposed new consecutive-disruption law is too restrictive. One wonders if he would still feel that way after several consecutive nights without sleep, as he lay listening to his neighbor's dog bark at two-minute intervals all night long.

Severely Ill Woman Tortured by Roar of Six Nearby Dogs Screaming Endlessly. Authorities May or May Not Do Something - Eventually - Just as Soon as they Do or Don't Get Around to It
Summary: For at least the last four very long months, while the authorities have dithered in indecision, an Australian woman has kept six constantly barking dogs outdoors in cages in her back yard in Palmerston.

The woman's neighbor is a sixty-four-year-old cancer victim who is receiving chemotherapy and struggling to convalesce. Unfortunately, the ill neighbor is unable to relax during the day, nor can she sleep more than two hours at night due to the non-stop barking. Also, because of the noise, she cannot open her windows to find relief in the heat of the day.

The woman who owns the dogs can't understand why her desperately ill neighbor keeps complaining, or what it is that she's so upset about.

The authorities continue to try to decide if perhaps they should attempt to do something to aid the victim.

Astoundingly Ill-Informed Sheriff and Procrastinating Commissioners Leave Victim to Suffer Unaided in Delaware County, Indiana
Summary: The bark of a St. Bernard being kept by a neighbor in an unincorporated area of Delaware County, Indiana, rings throughout the bedroom of Bonnie Claflin, from the time she goes to bed at 8 p.m. until she rises to go to work at 4 a.m.

The county does not have in place any ordinance whatsoever that forbids chronic barking. The county commissioners referred the victim to the Sheriff who could, if he wished, resolve the problem by enforcing the ordinance against disturbing the peace. The Sheriff, however, has not been of much help, which should come as no surprise in light of his statement to the affect that all dogs must bark as the spirit moves them, and it is impossible to, in any way, stop them from doing so.

Officials have assured the victim that her barking nightmare can be "addressed." But it has not been, and the end of Ms. Claflin's suffering is nowhere in sight.

Pennsylvania State Police Can't Enforce Town Ordinance Against Barking Dogs. Town Enforcement Officers Can enforce it - Or They Could - But There Aren't Any - So They Can't Do It Either.
Summary: Tensions are growing and hostilities appear to be escalating over intractable problems with barking dogs in Horton Township in Pennsylvania. As the problems continue and the victim's suffering drags on interminably, township supervisors are discussing the possibility of adopting a third law to augment the two existing laws that they have, thus far, failed to enforce.

Howell, New Jersey Moves From a Totally Worthless Ordinance to One of Questionable Value
Summary: After a much exasperated, bark-abused man beat his neighbor's barking dog with a shovel, municipal officials in Howell decided to move away from their impotent Consecutive-Disruption law, and adopt something more workable.

They are now leaning toward an ordinance that will leave the fate of the victim up to the discretion of the judge. Unfortunately, when it comes to barking dogs, judges tend to be perp-friendly.

Remember, your honor: If the dog is barking and somebody is bothered by it, that's the end of discovery. Once that is established, you should focus all your energy on making sure that the abuse comes to an immediate end.

Court Nullifies Improved Law in Billings, Montana
Summary: Billings, Montana had one of the notoriously ineffective Three Household laws in place, which in 2002, throughout the entire city, resulted in one citation to the owner of one barking dog for a total zero impact on the barking epidemic.

In an effort to improve the situation, the council amended the law to allow animal control to take action against an irresponsible dog owner based on the complaint of only one victim. (As opposed to the three complainants required by the Three Household laws.)

After the law was changed, a dozen alleged perpetrators received citations for barking dogs. However, one of the cases was dismissed because the victim was said to be too "sensitive." Another was dismissed before it ever even went to trial, supposedly, "In the interest of justice." The court did not specify, who exactly was receiving justice, but it appeared not to be the victim.

The court failed to convict a single perp. And the noise rolls on in Billings.

This page is part of the Barking Dog News and