With great fanfare, Hillsborough County, Florida has announced a new anti-barking ordinance. Sounds good, huh?
Well, like many things, the devil is in the details.This is yet another one of those ordinances with a multiple household rule. Meaning that if you're bothered by barking, you must get two of your neighbors to go along with you before a complaint can be filed.
Talk about a recipe for inaction. Quite often, the owners of barking dogs will turn the entire neighborhood against the barking-bedeviled person who dares to complain about the sacred utterances of Fifi or Fido.
After all, the dog owner is the victim! And Fifi and Fido? Well, they are beyond reproach because they are dogs! Everyone knows that dogs are always wonderful! All the time! So, we must not complain about them! Ever!
Well, dog worshipers, here's a news flash: Barking is noise. There are other types of noise that are dealt with quite harshly. And promptly.
Take, for example, my own city of Tucson. Place sounds like a kennel. But, when it comes to loud parties, there's the red tag ordinance. You hear a loud party? Is it keeping you up half the night? You call 911, and the police come. Oh, do they ever! The party house gets slapped with a red tag -- it goes on a front window where e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y can see it. The fines start at $500.
Why is this approach not used for barking complaints? The Hillsborough story offers a clue. The local rescue angels are up in arms because this new ordinance might reduce the adoption of dogs. After all, people might get in trouble with the law because of barking.
Rescue angels, here's another news flash: There's this thing called responsibility. You talk about it often. Responsibility includes having consideration for one's neighbors. If your potential adopters can't control a dog's barking, then maybe they shouldn't have a dog.