Friday, August 31, 2012

When someone tells you that dogs bark...

...respond by saying "Yeah, and some dogs barkandbarkandbarkandbarkandbark."

Feel free to add as many "andbark" repetitions as you need to get your point across. I guarantee that you won't need very many. I also guarantee that anyone listening will beg you to stop the chronic barking imitation.

At that point, you say "Welcome to my world."

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. Silence is golden. And so are the tee shirts and bumper stickers in my QuietBarkingDogs store.

The Futility of Mediation

Introduction: In many areas, mediation is offered to people who are dealing with chronic barking. This means that you're supposed to take time out of your busy, barking-interrupted existence to sit down with the dog owner and work out some sort of agreement.

Or, maybe-just-maybe, the mediation session will uncover the real issue that underlies your problem with that barking dog. Perhaps the neighbor is of a different ethnic group. A different religion. A follower of different sports teams. Or something like that.

The following story recounts my one and only experience with mediation in the city of Tucson. The mediation took place on July 14, 2005. At that time, mediation was a mandatory step in the animal noise complaint process. There was no personal safety exemption. Which meant that if your neighbor was a gang-banger, a drug trafficker, a motorcycle gang member, or some other form of lowlife, you had to show your face in a mediation with him or her.

The animal noise complaint process was changed in 2010. These days, mediation is no longer mandatory. As you can see from this page, mediation is now optional. But I doubt that barking noise mediation is any more effective than it was when I experienced it.

Here's my morning-after-mediation story:

Among other things, my neighbor tried to suggest that it wasn't his dog that was engaging in the multi-hour barkathons that I find so annoying.

The most recent barkathon took place this past Sunday evening between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., and the barking was so loud and persistent that I had to resort to wearing earmuffs and earplugs in my house -- with all the doors and windows closed -- in order to fall asleep.

Every time he offered that "not my dog" argument, I took him and the mediators on a quick verbal tour of the houses around me, pointing out which ones had dogs and which ones didn't, and describing the behavior of the other dogs in the area. The other dogs are not chronic barkers, and, therefore, whose dog could it possibly be?

He had no answer to that question.

He also tried to paint me as a newcomer who wasn't used to the ways of this neighborhood, and hey, he and his parents had lived here for more than a decade and had never had anyone complain about their dogs. (They have two, a female pug, which is the chronic barker, and a male puppy of this dog.)

Furthermore, he insisted that the dogs are kept inside the house from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. But that still did not explain why the barking was so loud that I have to resort to wearing earmuffs and earplugs inside my house -- with all the doors and windows closed.

In addition, he implied that my making a barking dog complaint had to do with racial discrimination. One of the mediators was very quick to point out that she had observed nothing in my demeanor or manner of speaking that would indicate such a thing.

If anything, I tried very hard to keep my presentation focused on the use of facts and logic, rather than on the use of emotion.

  1. He gave me his land and cell numbers and advised me to call whenever I'm bothered by the barking. I fully intend to do that.
  2. There are quite a few feral cats in this area, and none of the local dogs are happy about that. I've found that using Shake Away cat repellant has been quite effective in keeping cats off my property. I suggested that he also start using this product, in hopes that it will repel feline visitors from his place, and give his dogs one less thing to bark about.
  3. Since the dog seems to go into these barkathons when no one is home over there, I suggested that they provide some human sounds for the dogs. I told him and the mediators that I used to house-sit for a lady who told me to put the radio on whenever I left the house. She said that having music playing soothed the dog when all of his humans were gone.
So, here we are, seven years later. How effective were those three solutions?
  1. In the three years after the mediation, I called this man's land and cell phone numbers many times. During the day. During the evening. At midnight when the dog was left outside in the freezing cold. And during the wee hours of the morning. I'll never forget being rousted out of a sound sleep at 4:45 a.m. on an Easter Sunday. More than one call turned into a shouting match. Finally, on April 13, 2008, my call was met with a curt "I don't live there anymore!" response. So much for trying the telephone route.
  2. This neighborhood still has feral cats. I've tried all sorts of ways to keep them off this property, including Shake Away. Nothing has worked. And the cats are but one of many things that causes that pug to launch into a yapping frenzy.
  3. Music for the dog? I don't think they ever tried that. I've never been convinced that they have this dog for any other reason than making money from its puppies.
So much for mediation as a solution. The only thing it did was waste my time. But dealing with this neighbor face to face just added to the suspicions I had about him and his family. And, guess what, I wasn't the only one. I think you'll enjoy the story I told in a previous post on this blog. The federal raid is especially delicious.

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. To my lovely, pug-neglecting neighbors, I have this to say: You have provided me with inspiration. Which I am now sharing with the world through this blog and the QuietBarkingDogs store. Thanks again, neighbor-jerks. I couldn't have done it without you.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

This Week's Barking News Roundup - 08/30/12

Tucson Tails: Dog's 'Right To Bark' Upheld By Magistrate

In the Lousy Legal Decision Hall of Shame, we have this: [A] City Magistrate  ruled yesterday that a dachshund has a right to bark providing the noise does not disturb persons "of ordinary tastes and average sensibilities."

Further in the story, the hyper-sensitive, complaining, cute little dachshund-hating neighbor is reported as saying, "[S]he heard the barks at night from a distance of 75 feet, even with the bedroom window closed."

Tip: You will be very pleased to know that the story commenters don't think highly of the magistrate's decision. Follow the above link to join the commenting fiesta.

Barking dog leads to civil dispute

All I can say is, what a surprise!

Vernon Looks To Tighten Barking Dog Policy

Excerpt: The town's animal control officer remains confident that recent changes in how barking dog complaints are handled should give the town a little more bite in court.

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. Yours Truly is writing this post from my currently quiet home in the great city of Tucson. How nice it is that all of the neighborhood dogs have decided not to bark for a few minutes.

You may not be at all surprised to learn that I've also been in court with neighbors over their inability to keep their dog inside so it wouldn't bark-bark-bark and disturb everyone living within two blocks of their front yard. And the judge hearing the case was every bit as clueless as the aforementioned magistrate. Long story short, I lost the case, even though I presented lots of evidence about the barking and its negative effects on my right to quiet use and peaceful enjoyment of my house.

Well, judge, it's our turn. I've set up a QuietBarkingDogs store for anyone who wishes to live without the constant barking noise. The store has bumper stickers and tee shirts for quietly making a point.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This Week's Barking News Roundup - 08/22/12

Police: Troy man shot longtime neighbor who told his barking dogs to shut up

Excerpt: A 73-year-old Troy man has been charged with attempted murder after police said he shot his longtime neighbor in the face during a dispute over his barking dogs.

Tip: This story is open for comments via Facebook.

Owner of barking dogs found guilty of noise violation

Excerpt: It was another “guilty” verdict Wednesday night for an elderly Town of Tonawanda woman whose two dogs have spurred multiple noise complaints to police in recent years.

Tip: This story is open for comments.

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. Well, lookie-lookie. A slow news week.I suppose that's a good thing.

In the nearly three years that I've been compiling and posting these news roundups in one venue or the other, I've noticed that barking is becoming a tad more unfashionable. More and more reports of municipalities tightening up their barking penalties. Including hefty fines, and in some cases, sentences that include jail time. That happened in the Tonawanda case.

But we still have a long way to go in our quest to make chronic barking as unfashionable as secondhand smoke. Hence, my QuietBarkingDogs store. It has all sorts of bumper stickers and tee shirts to get our point across.

Oh, excuse me, there's that pit bull next door, going off about something or the other. Again. Just let me get a good night's sleep tonight, dog. And don't turn on your family or anyone else in this neighborhood, okay?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Land of Lost Sleep

I'm up extra-early because my aho next door neighbors left their pit bull out in the yard. Again.

Damn thing barked me out of a sound sleep at 2:45 a.m.

Mind you, this is a family with three children, including one in diapers. Why in the hell do they have a dog like that? Which of their precious children do they wish to sacrifice to this dog?

All I can say is this: I'm damn tired of sacrificing my sleep to that mutant.

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. This is being written during the predawn hours in the great city of Tucson, Arizona. Where officialdom strongly encourages us to talk to your neighbors about their barking dogs.

Yeah, sure. I'm going to walk next door and risk my life by trying to have a dialog with the owners of a pit bull. No, thank you.

If you're in the same boat as I am, have I got a store for you. Check out the bumper stickers and tee shirts in my QuietBarkingDogs store. And I do hope that you can grab a minute or two of rest amidst all the din. It's so unnecessary.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Creating More Victims of Dogs

One of the most baffling problems that the victims of barking noise face is the indifference, if not downright hostility, of officialdom.

In a recent post, I recounted a pattern of police intimidation that I faced after I repeatedly tried to report the loud and hostile barking from a neighbor's pit bull. Dog was left outside in a yard with a very flimsy fence. It could have breached that containment very easily.

And did I mention that this yard was right next to a very busy sidewalk and street? With bicyclist and pedestrian traffic at all hours of the day and night? Yeah, we felt real safe going past that dog. Oh, did we ever.

Fortunately, the dog and its owners left our neighborhood. Alas, that proverbial door didn't hit 'em where the Good Lord split 'em.

Unfortunately, this is not the first problem this neighborhood has experienced with aggressive pit bulls. There's another set of ne'er-do-wells with a trio of very hostile barkers. And, wouldn't you know it, this particular address is one of the top police call generators for this neighborhood. Funny how that works, isn't it?

A nearby couple enjoys taking walks around our neighborhood. They've encountered these dogs more than once, barking and snarling their heads off behind a chain-link fence that they could easily jump over. On one memorable occasion, this couple heard one of the children at this house telling the dogs to be quiet. An adult told the child not to do that. Reason: The dogs are supposed to be nasty and intimidating toward anyone going by. Including an innocent couple doing nothing more than walking on the other side of the street.

I've been chased by these dogs on more than one occasion. I've also witnessed one of them attacking a neighbor who was pulling his trashcan in from the curb on a Wednesday evening. Wednesday is our neighborhood's trash pickup day.

The guy was so shaken that I had to help him make a 911 call. And here's the fun part: The police came out, and as far as we neighbors can tell, the dog owners got off with nothing more than a reprimand.

Mind you, this was a few months after these same dogs chased a kid getting off the school bus. Kid called 911, the police came out, and the owners denied that the dogs were theirs. Heck, they'd never even seen the dogs before. Well, the police went on a little knock -n- talk tour of the block, and the neighbors told the truth. Animal control came and took those dogs away. Neighborhood breathed a sigh of relief.

Our relief was short-lived. The dogs were back in this neighborhood a few days later.

So much for the public health and safety being protected. I'm becoming all the more convinced that officialdom couldn't care less about such a thing. And their indifference is creating more victims of dogs.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

This Week's Barking News Roundup - 08/16/12

Oakley council considers rules on noisy dogs

Excerpt: Oakley's Municipal Code currently stipulates that vocal dogs become an unreasonable disturbance when they bark continuously for 15 minutes or intermittently for 30 minutes.

But that requires authorities responding to complaints to stay in that spot for at least 15 minutes to determine whether the canine is actually violating the law, and if it doesn't bark while they're there, a repeat visit becomes necessary, further stretching already limited manpower...

Tip: Does your community have stupid barking laws like Oakley's? Well, you can share a piece of your mind via the Facebook comments on this story.

Officials ponder proposed 'dog control' ordinance

Excerpt: It all started with a request from a resident for a barking dog ordinance and now, the Oxford Township Board is considering a "dog control" ordinance that encompasses a variety of canine-related issues.

Back in Court Over Barking Dogs

My comments: Looks like that Tonawanda repeat offender is going back to court because her dogs are still barking. This lady's 77 years old, and, IMHO, she should give it up on the dog ownership front. It's obvious that she can't handle the responsibility.

I'll finish this week's edition of the Barking News Roundup with a super-happy fun opinion poll. As they say in Chicago, vote early. And vote often.

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. Does your neighborhood feel like Tonawanda? No matter how much you complain, those idiot dog owners just don't get a clue. Well, don't holler at them. You'll just lose your voice. Instead, voice your displeasure with the bumper stickers and tee shirts in my QuietBarkingDogs store.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Why the Double Standard?

A few months ago, I called our local animal control agency to report an aggressively barking, unattended, and unmuzzled pit bull. The dog was kept in a neighbor's back yard. That yard had such flimsy fencing that it wouldn't have stopped this dog if it really wanted to escape.

The animal control dispatcher told me that as long as the aggressively barking (and possibly unlicensed) pit bull hasn't broken out and attacked anyone, it's not illegal.

So much for getting animal control to do anything. You'd think that they might be a tad interested in the licensing status of the dog. Last I checked, having an unlicensed dog was illegal around here.

Now, let's do a little thought experiment. Let's say that you're a human being, and you're in the habit of going out in your back yard and hollering threats at passersby. Doesn't matter if they're walking by themselves, walking with friends or family, or not walking at all. Maybe they're using wheelchairs or motorized scooters. Or, perhaps, they're walking their dog on a leash.

And there you are, shouting your head off. To make sure that everyone notices what you're doing, you're not just standing in your yard. You're rushing up to the fence that separates your yard from a heavily used sidewalk and street. What's worse, you're looking like you could jump that fence at any time. Hey, there's nothing like getting up close and personal with passersby, now is there?

I'll bet that, before too long, someone is going to pick up the phone and dial the magic three numbers. You know, 9-1-1.

I'd also venture to guess that when the police arrive, they're going to be more than a little interested in your ongoing habit of threatening anyone and everyone. At the very least, you'll probably be cited for disturbing the peace. You might also be warned that you'll be facing arrest if you don't stop the ranting and raving.

Seems to me that there's a bit of a double standard here. The dogs are given a pass, but similar behavior in humans causes all kinds of concern.

In an excellent essay on his website, Dr. Craig Mixon writes, "It is a great scandal that those entrusted with the oversight of the public safety have made the decision to tolerate belligerent barking, because allowing a dog to hurl verbal threats at passersby greatly increases the chances that the animal will eventually bite someone. Beyond a doubt, the decision of those in authority to ignore threatening barkers contributes greatly to the epidemic of dog bites."

Right on, Dr. Mixon.

As for the uber-aggressive pit bull, I found that animal control was useless. And the police were more interested in intimidating me, that neighbor who kept calling about the barking, than actually doing anything to enforce the disturbing the peace laws that our city has on its books.

One cop even threatened me with arrest for making a false report. That's because he and a fellow officer finally showed up several hours after I called to report the barking. Nothing like having plans for a quiet Sunday evening shattered by non-stop noise. There was no place in my house where I could go to escape the barkathon. And what was I supposed to do? Spend money on a motel room because some idiot neighbors couldn't control their dog?

Well, wouldn't you know it, by the time the cops arrived, the dog had barked itself out. Since the officers didn't hear a peep out of it, the problem had to be with me.

A few hours after that police call, the pit bull and its owners vanished from this neighborhood. And, guess what, nobody misses them.

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. Are your local animal control and law enforcement blowing off their responsibility to ensure peace and quiet in your community? When they start hearing from those who pay their salaries, believe me, they'll start paying attention. In addition to telling officialdom how you feel, tell the public too. I have a whole line of bumper stickers and tee shirts for peace and quiet activists in the QuietBarkingDogs store.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

This Week's Barking News Roundup - 08/09/12

Roswell man tortured and beat dogs with a bat to keep them from barking

Excerpt: Neighbors called authorities when they heard [the dog owner], 47 hitting his fence with a bat and at the same time heard a dog crying out in pain. Chaves County Sheriff's deputies arrived when [the dog owner] was still holding the bloody bat apparently used to beat the dog. The injuries to the dog were so severe, she had to be humanely euthanized.

New Dog Park Has Neighbors Barking

Excerpt: A place to keep your dog fit or a community eye sore? A new dog park has a Fargo neighborhood locked digging up a debate. The park would be located between 7th and 9th Avenue South near the downtown area.

Neighbors say there are a lot of issues that the Parks and Rec Department did not think about before they started this project. Also, they failed to tell people in the area that this was going to happening. And now the neighborhood is trying to stop it.

[S]top neighbor's barking dog

Question: So my wife and I recently purchased a home which we really love. For the most part the neighborhood is extremely quiet. Problem is our neighbors have 2 small dogs that are out in their side yard 24 hours a day. As soon as my wife and I go into our backyard they bark and simply do not stop. Sitting in my backyard is no fun because it's just barking all the time. Another problem is the neighbors are fairly "tough" looking dudes who I would almost be scared that if we pissed them off, they could retaliate. Plus they don't speak much English. Any suggestions here? I know I could call the cops but I'm hoping not to have to do that. What about those electronic zapping things you buy to stop dogs barking? Any suggestions here would be great.

Got an answer? Follow the above link and offer it!

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. Is the noise from your neighbors' dogs making you barking mad? Well, don't just get mad, get even with the bumper stickers and tee shirts in my QuietBarkingDogs store.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Barking on the Air

One of the interesting things about the movies and television is how rare smoking on screen has become. Likewise, drinking. Dean Martin's "have a martini while doing the TV show" schtick would never fly these days.

Then there's barking. Still ubiquitous on the screen and on the radio. Trust me, there's nothing that makes me shut my radio off faster than that barking dog Christmas carol. That song gets more way more airplay than it ever deserved.

Which brings me to advertising. You're probably in a locale where more than one business uses barking dogs in its commercials.

Here in Tucson, one of the prime offenders is an auto brake shop, and trust me, I will never patronize that place. And there's a real estate agent who can't bear to promote her services without bringing her yappy dog into the ad. Cross her off the list too.

What made smoking and drinking rare on the air? Changing social standards.

We can do the same thing with barking. We can call and e-mail the businesses that use barking in their advertising. Remind them that money talks, and that our money is going to be talking at other businesses. We can educate the producers of movies and TV shows about the harm done by uncontrolled barking.

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. If you want to show your displeasure, you can holler at those barking dogs on the TV and the radio. But you'll make yourself hoarse in a hurry. Instead, head over to my QuietBarkingDogs store. All sorts of bumper stickers and tee shirts that will save your voice and make your sentiments known far and wide.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

This Week's Barking News Roundup - 08/02/12

Woman's Barking Dogs Gets Her Jail Time

Excerpt: Police say [the dogs' owner] has received tickets and up to $2,000 dollars in fines, but that nothing has changed. That is why [the] Town Justice sentenced her Wednesday night to do one day behind bars.

Tip: This news story is open for comments via Facebook.

Barking dogs problem a symptom of a cultural shift

Excerpt: Some have stated that their hunting dogs barking at all hours are part of a proud Southern tradition. I'd ask that they remember that shooting Indians, human slavery, raping the forests and polluting the streams were also past traditions that have been abandoned and are now illegal, for good reason. Human development requires that we modify our behavior as a society and adapt to changing conditions, and that some "traditions" are not worth keeping if the exercise of those acts infringes upon the rights of others.

Note: The writer is referring to this story, which was included in the July 20 Barking News Roundup.

Tip: This opinion piece is open for comments. Follow the above link to add yours.

Barking dogs could take bite out of Fairview wallets 

Excerpt: Under the new rules, township officials will measure the sound as well as how long the dog barks, how close it is to neighboring homes and other factors. Dogs disturbing anyone by raising a ruckus for 30 minutes or longer can be considered a public nuisance.

To which I say: Coming up next! Fairview dogs learn how to tell time!

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. Do you think that jail time is a worthy penalty for those who can't control their dogs? Or would exile to a desert island filled with barking dogs be more appropriate? Yes, it's fun to fantasize. And, speaking of fun, you'll find it among the tee shirts and bumper stickers in my QuietBarkingDogs store.