Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Barking Dog Lawsuits: October 2017 Update

Can you sue the owner of the barking dog that's driving you nuts? You sure can! Here's what a Florida real estate attorney has to say:

Homeowner could sue neighbor over barking dog

Now, here's the downside. You could win your case, but your neighbor may appeal. Happened in this case, which began in 2002:

Owners must surgically 'debark' loud dogs, court rules

Here's the money quote from the story:

"The Appeals Court upheld the $238,000 verdict and Gerking’s ruling, reasoning that the Kreins shouldn't have to file lawsuit after lawsuit to recover compensation as the problem continues. In his written opinion, Appeals Judge Joel DeVore likened that to a 'judicial merry-go-round.'"

Thank you, Your Honor. And let's be aware of the fact that merry-go-round has an on/off switch. It can't run forever. Nor should it.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Epidemic Level of Barking Dogs

This post goes out to my college student neighbors with the LOUD dog. I do hope that you undertake the challenging task of opening the door and letting your dog back into the house. If your parents can afford to pay out-of-state tuition, I think they can also finance some etiquette training. Because subjecting the neighbors to nonstop barking is very rude.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, here's an excellent letter to the editor. Quoting from the letter:

"Sometimes the dogs are out barking at 6:30 a.m. and seem to not be under the discipline of any responsible adults. This can go on all day. I suspect the owners put out the dogs then go to work. I believe this to be our right to be protected from this gross audio pollution and neighbors who are inconsiderate. Going for a walk in this part of town is impossible with out groups of fenced dogs snarling and barking through fences wanting to kill you. It is so disturbing; the quiet, the peace and calm of this residential area."

Then came this comment:

"Why not approach your neighbors in a calm, adult, and civilized way and work together to find a solution?"

Which was followed by another commenter's perspective:

"All too often -- maybe alarmingly often -- the person on the other side of that door (the dog-owning neighbor) isn't a calm, civilized adult who's interested in working together to find a solution.

"All too often, the person raising the issue is painted as the bad guy, and then targeted, for simply raising a valid complaint in a "calm, adult, and civilized way."

"What then?"

Exactly. This is why I no longer talk to my neighbors about their barking dogs. 

I've found that talking to neighbors is about as useful as talking to a brick wall. And I've been there and done that on the painted-as-the-bad-guy thing.

What do I do instead? I report owners of barking dogs to animal control, which sends a Sternly Worded Letter. Personally, I think that the initial contact should have more oomph, but my last two reports have resulted in the departure of the dogs -- and their owners. Perhaps that forthcoming animal control letter will have the same effect on those overprivileged college kiddies.

One can only hope. And blog.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Peak Fido, indeed!

Last summer, the Animal Uncontrol blog offered a post with this prediction:

"[E]verything I am reading about and experiencing first hand gives me a gut feeling that the 'dog bubble' is deflating, and may be doing so at a rapid pace. I am going 'Bearish' on dog mania!"

That "Peak Fido" post has become one the AU blog's most popular.

And it seems that Peak Fido is spreading beyond the dog-blogosphere. Note this just-published article in the highly influential British newspaper, The Guardian:

Should we stop keeping pets? Why more and more ethicists say yes

The article features the research of Jessica Pierce, author of the book, Run, Spot, Run. It offers a long-overdue critique of our country's obsession with pets.

Quoting from The Guardian, and I'm using boldface to emphasize what I believe is the key point:

"From the animals that become dog and cat food and the puppy farms churning out increasingly unhealthy purebred canines, to the goldfish sold by the bag and the crickets by the box, pet ownership is problematic because it denies animals the right of self-determination. Ultimately, we bring them into our lives because we want them, then we dictate what they eat, where they live, how they behave, how they look, even whether they get to keep their sex organs."

And the hits just keep on coming. Here's another article from the Hollywood Patch:

Fido And Fluffy Are Ruining The Environment, UCLA Study Says

If you love that headline, then you'll adore the subhead: "America's beloved dogs and cats play a significant role in causing global warming, according to a new study by UCLA."

Thank you, UCLA, for pointing out what I've long thought was a blind spot in the environmental movement. I see way too many people who ride bicycles while taking their own bags to the organic foods store, and they own several dogs or cats. In many cases, they love to call attention to themselves by proclaiming that their pets are RESCUES!

I've tangled with more than a few of these people. For some reason, they don't seem to like it when I point out that their precious little fur babies are nonstop barkers that cause noise pollution.

As for these pet-questioning news stories, I hope they continue to increase. Because it's time to face the truth, even if it makes the doggie and kitty worshipers uncomfortable.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Don't like dogs? It's okay now.

There was a time, and it wasn't too long ago, when it was almost mandatory to start your criticism of dogs and their owners by saying "I love dogs, but ..."

Well, I'm here to tell you that it's okay to not love dogs. Hey, you don't even have to like them.

Here's an example of how public opinion is changing. From the Pacific Northwest:

Not wild about dogs? How to cope in mutt-mad Seattle

Kudos to the Seattle Times for publishing this piece.

Friday, July 7, 2017


Despite what many well-meaning people say, I do NOT recommend trying to talk to the owner(s) of barking dog(s). That very thing has gotten people killed.

What do I recommend? Start by checking out this website:

I also suggest a reading of the excellent book, Neighbors from Hell. You can borrow it from the library. Author Bob Borzotta advises that you not deal directly with your problematic neighbors. Use local authorities for that. Here are two helpful phone numbers:

911. Yes, you can report barking. Just make that call. You can remain anonymous.

Animal control. Here in Tucson, the number is 520-724-5900. They'll start the complaint process by sending a Sternly Worded Letter to the dog owner. Yeah, I know. A letter. How scary. Well, you know what? Sometimes this works!

Case in point: Last year, I reported neighbors for failing to control a barking dog and for having a yard full of junk. Shortly after they got the Sternly Worded Letter, they got rid of the dog. Code enforcement got on their case about the junk, and they cleaned it up.

After getting rid of the dog and removing the yard junk, these people moved. The property was a rental and has since been sold.

Even better news, the new occupants don't have a dog and they keep their yard clean. Victory!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Barking Dog Lawsuits: June 2017 Update

Here's an interesting case out of Dayton, Ohio:

A couple is suing their neighbors over barking dogs. The suit seeks more than $125,000 in damages.

The husband in this couple is a doctor. According to the Dayton Daily News report, "the constant barking has affected their marriage and [the doctor’s] ability to be rested well enough to perform surgeries."

Bingo. There it is. Sleep deprivation affecting interpersonal relationships and one's ability to perform at work.

Who hasn't suffered from these things? I can attest to the fact that I'm suffering from sleep deprivation right now. (Thank you, owners of the robo-yapper down the street.)

The Dayton Daily News story goes on to say:

"Six dog-related criminal cases from March 2015 to June 2017 have been filed against the [dog owners] in Vandalia Municipal Court; two have resulted in guilty pleas and $25 or $50 fines.

"'A reasonably prudent person would not allow their dog to make such excessive noise that it frequently and habitually interrupts, or precludes, the sleep of neighbors,' wrote [a local lawyer who is the plaintiffs' attorney], adding that his clients 'have a right to the enjoyment of their property, and to relative peace within their home.'"

In two short paragraphs, we see two big problems with dog law:

  1. Six trips to court by the sleep-deprived neighbors and the dog owners. And slap-on-the-wrist fines in two cases.
  2. The right to quiet enjoyment and peaceful use of the home. Which requires defense through an expensive lawsuit because the criminal process was so ineffective.
Here's a better system: The Model Anti-Barking Law, courtesy of the website.

And, to that sleep-deprived couple in Dayton, I send you my best wishes for a huge victory in civil court.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Another Useless Barking Ordinance

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.