Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Barking Dogs in the City: It's Against the Law

I had a little dust-up over the weekend with a neighbor who owns a beagle with the voice box of a Boeing 767 and the result was threats from her husband and a promise that, no, she wouldn't do anything about the incessant howling that was keeping my windows closed and preventing me from using my deck.

After our discussion, her 500-pound husband showed up in my back yard as I was unloading dirt from my truck and continued the conversation with, "Are you the one who was arguing with my wife?" and I said, "That would probably be accurate if your wife is the one with the loud beagle."

"Well," he said,  "we're building a fence for the dog and until then, he's going to bark some."

"You characterize that pained and incessant howl as 'bark some'?" I said. "Generous of you. You already have a fence and the dog's howling because he's tied up and left alone. That's a real good sign of bad ownership."

That pissed him off. "You're the one that called the dog warden on us, ain't you?" he said.

"That'd be me," I countered. "You didn't seem to be around, but the dog sure was and I had company on my deck. We couldn't hear each other talking."

"If you call them again," he said, getting redder and fatter by the minute, "I'm suing for harassment." Interesting concept: liability for reporting a crime.

"We have some pretty crazy ordinances in the city," I said, "but I don't think it's breaking the law to report a public menace and disturbing the peace."

"You just try it," he said.

"I will," I promised. "Next time the dog howls, you'll get a visitor. Now, I think it's time for you to leave." And he did.

Next day, I e-mailed my pal Bill Hackworth, the Roanoke City Attorney and he mediated. I was right, the fat guy was wrong.

Here's the ordinance (with this caveat from Bill, "We do not have an ordinance creating an offense for someone who calls the police to report violations of City ordinances. "):

Sec. 6-11. Public nuisance animal.
(a) A public nuisance animal shall mean and include any animal or animals that:
(1) Is observed to run at large, as defined by section 6-22, two (2) or more times in any six-month period;
(2) Excessively makes disturbing noises including, but not limited to, continued or repeated howling, barking, whining, or other utterances causing unreasonable annoyance, disturbance or discomfort to neighbors or others in close proximity to the premises where the animal is kept or harbored;
(b) No person shall keep, harbor, act as the custodian of or permit to remain in or about any premises occupied by him any public nuisance animal, and violation of this section shall constitute a Class 3 misdemeanor. In addition, any violation of this section is hereby declared a public nuisance, and any person suffering injury or damage therefrom may seek correction, removal or abatement of such public nuisance through appropriate suit in equity. Any public nuisance animal, as defined by subsection (a) of this section, may be impounded. (c) This section shall have no application to dangerous and vicious dogs which are regulated by division 3 of this article.

Sec. 6-26. Barking or howling dogs.

The harboring or keeping of any dog, which by loud, frequent or habitual barking or howling or by other conduct likely to cause annoyance and disturb the peace and quiet of any person or neighborhood, which loud, frequent or habitual barking or howling or other conduct is heard or observed by any animal control officer, other officer or other person, shall be unlawful, and any such dog is hereby declared to be a public nuisance. Any such dog may, after reasonable notice has been given by an animal control officer to the owner of such dog, if known, or upon complaint of any person, if such owner is unknown, be impounded and confined in the city dog pound by an animal control officer or any police officer. 

Sounds clear to me. If you have a barking dog, shut his noisy ass up or you can lose him. And you can probably lose more than that if the offended citizen chooses to make it so.

(Photo: dogbreedinfo.com)


  1. Oh boy, can I sympathize! It's very frustrating dealing with bad dog owners. I swear I left Brooklyn because my neighbor's dog barked constantly and the police wouldn't do anything about it. The only thing worse was the constant thump, thump, thump of the basketball as my newborn tried to sleep! Good luck with your situation...

  2. Dan, try a little friendliness...offer the dog a treat every time you see him (with the owners' permission, of course). The little guy will look forward to seeing you and the barking should stop.

  3. Give him a treat and get your hand bitten ... no thanks.

    Gees, I can sympathize with that. It just amazes me that owners of barking dogs don't seem to hear them.

    I have been so lucky out here at Countryside and want it to stay that way.

  4. I'd love to have been a fly on the side of the house when you were having these conversations!

  5. I guess that some dog owners are much like parents of little bratty children. They think their little ones are little angels. Having moved to the city several years ago, I too, have a little doggie situation next door. These little doggies, now deemed "The Little Yappy F****ers" are cute, but they bark their asses off when they are on their deck and I am on mine. I'm OK with that, because they can see me...and they don't know me. But what really ticks me off is that they will bark when they are in their own house, and I go outside on my deck. Maybe they are aliens and bark by vibration?

  6. Linda:
    My dog training said that I should give a dog a treat as a reward for doing something I asked of him. I'd try it--as a last resort--but for two challenges: the dog is two yards removed from mine and I'd have to trespass to reward him for barking; his owners and I burned a bridge over the weekend and they're no doubt hoping I went down in the flames. Not pleasant people who'd be my friends under other circumstances. And, boy, would I hate the prospect of having to feed them.

  7. I have Two small house dogs that I let out several times a day. In the back yard.I stand at the Door and wait for them to do their Business,Then they come back in, While out they do Bark.They are never out more than about 5-6 minutes.My neighbor's Lady Pal complains and Harasses us, my family on a constant basis.At the Fence Profanity , vulgar remarks, Anti-gay remarks ect ect .Claiming her Man works nights.. In reality [ 2nd shift]..Her behavior clearly resembles someone sadly unstable er Mentally Ill. While its never my intention to Annoy any one .I will not allow her to Bully us.. Had she approached us in a Adult Manner things might be differant..Unfortunatly my dog's neck is too small for a bark collar and c'mon 5-6 minutes..Avid dog lover here . While she attempts to get us on barking dog complaints I see no choice but to Pursue Harrasment.RBN

  8. Barking dogs likely represent the primary cause of neighborhood discord. When I'm trying to write and the beagle across the back fence is screaming, my blood boils--even if it's for a few minutes. I do not believe barking dogs should be allowed in urban or suburban neighborhoods, even if the barking's limited to a few minutes a day while out to pee. Anything that makes loud, insistent and uncomfortable noise (loud motorcycles, chainsaws and other lawn equipment and even children) make some people uncomfortable, but I don't think anything causes the problems dogs cause because they are so damn unnecessary. You'll notice that the dogs with the most responsible owners don't bark. They are trained not to. It takes time and patience, but if you're going to have a dog, you owe that to your neighborhood--or you can find a nice farm somewhere. This has nothing at all to do with sexual preference. It's about peace.

    1. Thanks but All the other neighbor's don't feel they are loud at all.They have all had problems with her as well.. And feel as I, That there is some Mental issues sadly goin on..Still standing firm on not being bullied.RBN

  9. When you're breaking the law (violating the City Code) - Sec. 6-11. Public nuisance animal; Sec. 6-26. Barking or howling dogs - you're the one being the bully. Please have a little respect and consideration for your neighbors. Dog lovers or not, if you live in the City, most responsible pet owners should control their dogs.

  10. Yeah.......fuck barking dogs. I have had Rottweilers my whole life. Our new rottie is almost 2 yrs old and never barks whatsoever. We just had a couple move next door to us and they brought with them the most annoying dogs ever. They bark at absolutely nothing. It wakes my wife up and my 6 yr old. He needs his rest for school, but that has been majorly interrupted here lately. Our patience is wearing thin. I mean, are these idiot/irresponsible owners deaf??? No they aren't. It is a young couple from Pennsylvania and they can hear perfectly well. It never ceases to amaze me of people's lack of consideration for others. Unbelievable. Will be calling city of roanoke tomorrow. No use in trying to talk to people. Their lack of consideration tells me they have a low level of intelligence and reasoning with them would be like trying to reason with a 6 yr old.

  11. Who do we call about a barking dog?

    1. Call animal control. Not sure it will get the result you want, but it's the only police force for barking dogs.l

  12. Every morning at 4:30 my neighbors dog is put outside to do his business and unfortunately barks until 5:15 when his owner is ready to leave, we are about 50 feet from the dog and he is loud, complete disregard for neighbors, I will call in the morning for sure.

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