LETTER- A barking dog is a mistreated dog

In the June 5 article regarding the barking dog ordinance being considered by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors ["Ruff story: Will neighbors bark out summonses?"], Hank Martin's observation that dog disputes "can and should be" settled outside the courtroom represents an idealistic vision that, sadly, clashes with reality. The reason we need so much government intervention is that so many people refuse to be considerate.

Allowing a dog to bark continuously is not only incredibly disrespectful of neighbors, it also represents animal cruelty.  A dog that barks and barks without an obvious cause– such as at a person or another animal– is a dog that is terribly unhappy. A dog that has companionship does not bark continuously.

Even though they exhibit a great deal of diversity in size, molecular genetic evidence shows that domestic dogs are gray wolves, which means that dogs are highly social and do not want to be alone. Dogs continuously barking are dogs that have been placed in what amounts to solitary confinement.

With approximately 45 million Americans owning dogs, it's really surprising that our society doesn't seem to recognize that (1) barking for hours on end is not normal dog behavior, and (2) such behavior should be recognized as resulting from inhumane treatment.

As for Dave Heilberg's concern that false accusations could be "lobbed by feuding neighbors," this is easily avoidable. If Animal Control officers arrive to find a dog barking, you can bet that dog has been barking for more than the 30 minutes required by the proposed ordinance because often you can't even reach an Animal Control officer for more than 30 minutes.

It's unbelievable that dogs are exempt from the noise ordinance anyway. A barking dog is every bit as aggravating to put up with, if not more so, as loud music. Considering the inhumane aspect of it, it's hard to understand anyone justifying opposition to this ordinance.

 Marlene Condon



Thank you Marlene for a very thoughtful, spot on letter. We faced this same problem in Mount Dora Florida last fall...I presented the faulty, subjective ordinance to the city council and they, amid TONS of national and international media criticism, passed an ordinance that is quite like the one your city passed. There is NO one who can say with all truth that they LOVE to listen to barking dog(s) fifty feet from their property line.

With today's relatively cheap voice-activated mini recorders there is absolutely NO reason why evidence of barking dogs (length, time, decibel level) cannot be recorded and presented to support a noise victim's case. To reinforce the recording I advise that you leave it running when you phone the police with the complaint (call from your cell phone while standing outside so the police line, which is most likely also recording, gets the barking on their tape). Leave the recorder going when the police arrive and ask them to come over to where the recorder is and loudly state the day, date and time. This will be hard to dispute in a court...especially if you have the required 30-minutes of barking on the tape and it is continuously running. Trust me...it is indisputable. Don't be browbeat by cruel neighbors...don't blame the dog, blame the owners.

Please visit www.dogassault.com to see how widespread this barking dog problem is. You will be quite surprised. Thank you for this forum.

Well, since the ordinance doesn't specify why a dog is barking, your case falls flat. We've owned dogs my entire life. They are neither abused nor "terribly unhappy." They are extremely well-adjusted pets who are friendly to all people (except cyclists, which I find perfectly logical), and nearly all dogs. but they will bark - at squirrels, at cyclists, and especially at hot air balloons.

Hot air balloons fly over our property almost daily, and it's almost always several of them and they almost always take well over 30 minutes to go over. Should I be ticketed because my dogs bark at hot air balloons if the balloons take longer than 30 minutes? I'm not going to take them inside while the balloons pass - why should I punish my dogs so that somebody can pay $500 to fly over my house (and make flame noises that far exceed reasonable noise levels)? That's definitely provoked barking, but if somebody records it like you say, then the burden is on me to prove they were provoked? That's not the way the justice system is supposed to work. All I can say is bring it on!

Excellent summary of barking dogs by Marlene Condon! The poor creatures are owned and neglected by people suffering from the latest sociopathic mental illness. Why does the public sanction this animal cruelty? How these horrible dog owners are allowed to torment their dogs and then use them as weapons of assault on the community is beyond belief. Yes, YOU SHOULD be caring for your dogs at all times and that means if a hot air balloon goes over your house causing your dogs so much anxiety that they must bark, then YOU MUST help your dogs rather than stand around with your hands on your hips claiming you have no responsibility. It's incredibly self-centered to own such a loving animal and refuse to care for it properly. All research indicates barking is not normal behavior for wild dogs, and for domesticated dogs, it is a it is a response to their unnatural confinement and dependence on humans, a cry for attention, a sign of neglect. Claiming there are good excuses for "provoked" barking is just one indication of this self-centered, dog-owning mental illness. Dogs that bark too often end up with nervous disorders and ulcers. If you don't have time to care, train and socialize your dogs properly, you shouldn't be allowed to own one. www.dogassault.com

Thirty minutes is a long time to sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing to control your dogs barking! And a five minute break means nothing when one seeks peace from barking. At least there is some form of law, but it is created in such a way that the barking can remain disruptive indefinitely.

If a dog is not attended to in five minutes, then the dogs owner is being neglectful. This should be the view of the Board of Supervisors. Time based enforcement is not going to work on barking. Animal control negligence are the issues we need to confront. Dog owners should control their animals on whatever issues at the time of the issue. Its not the barking that is the problem, it is the animal control ethic of the dog owner. This is what we need to police.

The unfortunate thing is you can live in a rural area, have your dogs fenced in and have another dog come near your fence and your dogs will bark until the "loose" dog leaves their "area". Happens all the time. No leash law, which is fine but you have happy dogs that normally don't bark but put a dog anywhere near their fence and yes, they'll bark the whole time!

Just plain country living for the most part.

I agree, This move has not been "thought through enough". How about the many folks who have a two acre lot resting adjacent to inconsiderate people owning "more land"? Does the BOS care about the less wealthy folk? NOT!
The BOS cares about those who flash the $$$$ or the power.
Let the dogs bark and bother the less fortunate or those who own less land.

What's worse, barking dogs or living next door to a homeowner with a pool with 10 squeeling children that never take a 5 minute break? Let the dogs bark and shut the kids up!

Well are the kids in the pool in december or april or october? I'll take the kids, you take the dogs 12 months of the year. surely the are not in the pool 2 AM...if they are call social services.