So you wanna bust your neighbor...

So, it's been 30 minutes, and the dog next door still won't quit yapping. What now?

First, under the new Albemarle anti-barking law, you need to determine whether or not your neighbor's property is five acres or larger. If not, you can proceed under the newly-approved barking ordinance.

Start by ignoring the address on Albemarle County's website; the Charlottesville-Albemarle Magistrate's office hasn't been downtown for at least five years.

Now located at 1610 Avon Street, it's next to the local jail. And although it's supposedly open 24 hours a day, on the morning of our visit, June 16, we had to wait while something urgent was rushed to a courthouse downtown.

"Take a number," jokes a man in front of me when the office finally reopens 40 minutes after my arrival.

Six chairs are lined up in a formation reminiscent of a passport line in a post office. I take a seat.

Another thirty minutes go by, and a magistrate invites me in. I am in a room with a table and chair, and there is a sheet of thick glass separating the magistrate and me.

Magistrate Rovelle Brown walks me through the process of issuing a summons. "You need to give probable cause," says Brown, "and from that we'll determine whether a summons needs to be issued or not." He tells me your evidence could be a witness; it could be a videotape– "whatever evidence you want to present."

Brown says the complainant must appear in person and must "swear their testimony under oath." Next, they have to fill out a criminal complaint form, complete with their name, a description of the barking crime, and the name/address of the accused– the dog's owner, that is. If he determines that there is probable cause, the Magistrate will "normally set the summons up within ten days."

In the four or five days that this ordinance has existed, Brown hasn't yet seen a barking complaint. In fact, he didn't even hear about the impending ordinance until it had been passed.

"I've been working 12 years as a magistrate," Brown says, "and [dog barking] complaints are very rare." He says that once the public finds out about this ordinance, however, more complaints of this type may show up.

"It's going to be a hard job," Brown says, "sometimes we get people in here who have a grudge against another individual." Brown says he'll have to do his best to "weed through" cases like these.

Read more on: dogsleash laws for dogs


we have dogs barkin and not on a lease all the time on my block so what else is new we really need for the game ward to come more often on the blocks to see what dogs and cats are wonderin in and out of our neigborhood and tearin up our back yards that is all i have to say thank u for lettin me vent that one out, they sometime get to our garbage when we sent it out for the garbage truck to pick them up and the dogs get to them first

In Albemarle, with this poorly designed excessive barking ordinance, size does matter and if you are too big you are free to let you dogs bark from dawn to dusk and beyond. I am not sure what moron came up with 5 acres but why is the guy with 1 acre denied the same barking rights as the guy with 10 acres? Hell why not just create barking zones in the county? My guess is the brilliant mind behind 5 acres either was looking out for his own butt or thought soundwaves from large dogs do not extent beyond 5 acres, regardless of how narrow that 5 acres is.

A committee would have shown more sense than those that designed this law.

I know someone who owns a 2 acre parcel in Albemarle. The adjacent neighbors, owning 30 acres, let their multiple dogs roam and bark all night. The person is sleep deprived as a result of the rude neighbors' not controling their dogs. Of course, the dogs also do much of their duty on others' property. There is no leash law, so the dogs have a perfect right to enter her property. We all know, the dogs are not to blame. Uncaring people, including those officials who set up the laws, are at fault. A discriminatory situation has been created in Albemarle, whereby some are favored over others.

Don't the officials realize some who own large properties, somehow positioned their homes or dog runs,very close to another's property? Just because one owns more property, doesn't necessarily mean the noise or bother is far off. All should have been treated equally here. All should be afforded the same right to remedy the situation of barking dogs.
Size Matters, your idea for citizen or committee involvement is great. The problem, the board of supervisors avoids such input so they can maintain more control in imposing unbalanced rules upon the people.

"There is no leash law, so the dogs have a perfect right to enter her property."

I would argue that the dogs have no such right whatsoever. The owner still needs to be in control of them, and there's no way that privately-owned dogs have the "right" to encroach upon another's property in any way.

Since Larry Davis, the county attorney, wants to create rules that only protect a select few in the county based on acreage, perhaps we, the county taxpayers, should only pay him a partial salary. This is the most bizzare ruleing this county has approved in a longtime. I am waiting for moonshine and cockfight to come back to the county since that will also give us "rural character". I noticed no one in Davis' neighborhood owns acreage more than 5 acres. Would he have set the 5 acre rule to protect himself?

Sorry music lover, but there are no leash laws in most of the county, and only neighborhoods with covenants. Dogs have the "right" to enter others' property. For example, hunting season is a nightmare for most in Albemarle. Hunting dogs run across private properties for months. Unless you live in Glenmore/Farmington,the dogs can come and go as they please.
Larry S, Sounds like Davis is looking out for his own interests here..................Time for a new lawyer.