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 BarkingDogs.net 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.