Barking Dog Decision Needs Another Look

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Barking
Dog Decision Needs Another Look

It may
not be akin to Ocean City’s decision to drop the recycling program, but there
are people around these parts barking mad over the County Commissioners’
decision to not do anything about what they perceive as a serious issue –
barking dogs.

At last
week’s meeting, the commissioners decided against approving a measure that
would allow for property owners to be fined if their barking dog is found to be
a nuisance. The bill would have established, “regulations for barking or
howling dogs, violations of which are subject to a civil infraction; provides
that it shall be unlawful to harbor a dog which barks or howls continuously
disturbing the peaceful enjoyment of neighboring properties …” The bill defines
barking as, “barking which occurs for at least twenty minutes or for three or
more periods of time in excess of twenty seconds each in a one-hour period …”

The
commissioners voted 4-3 to not approve this bill, with Commissioners Linda
Busick, Bud Church and Robert Cowger in support, and Commissioners Judy Boggs,
Louise Gulyas, James Purnell and Virgil Shockley voting against it.

The
commissioners need to give this decision another look because it’s a serious
issue in some parts of the county. Just ask the residents who spoke
passionately at last week’s public hearing and others who penned a letter to
their commissioners. It’s a major issue to them, and surely there are other
complaints out there.

Those
who opposed the bill seem to think the issue should be ironed out among the
neighbors themselves or potentially through a civil suit or a disturbing peace
charge criminally. Logic, substantiated by comments from residents and letters
to commissioners, proves neither of those are realistic options to quieting the
community’s concerns.

We
found a letter addressed to Church particularly telling of the severity of the
problem. In his letter, Windsor Road resident Matt Banks told Church of how he
and his neighbors are exasperated by a dog that begins barking at 6:30 a.m. and
continues at times till 2 a.m. He contacted the Sheriff’s Office, which
responded, but deputies informed him there’s little they can do. Animal Control
had a similar reaction.

He
wrote, “My neighbors and I are hardworking individuals who deserve the right to
peace and quiet from a nuisance like this. Some of us have to get up early for
work and others work late, needing to sleep in. … After hours upon hours of
continual barking, we are very frustrated with this situation.”

The
commissioners need to give residents and subsequently law enforcement some sort
of option to impose on inconsiderate neighbors who do not care enough about
their community’s peace or their dogs. Whether a $500 fine or another
denomination is enough is unknown, but at least three commissioners were
willing to give these residents some sort of hope at peace. It’s our hope the
topic will be broached again and that at least one commissioner on the wrong
side will think better of his or her recent decision.

 

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