Citizens Start Petition Over Barking Dogs

BERLIN – Barking dogs
are not going away, and supporters of more regulation of canine noise nuisances
say they will keep on fighting, despite the recent rejection of a barking dogs
ordinance by elected officials.

Last week, several
citizens went down to Snow Hill to speak in favor of the barking dog law that
would have imposed fines on the owners of chronically barking canines. Other
people wrote letters or assembled petitions.

Despite this support,
four of the seven Worcester County Commissioners voted against approving the

Supporters of the law
are not finished, however.

The first step, said
barking dog law supporter Budd Heim, will be to get a petition going and try to
convince one of the dissenting commissioners – Virgil Shockley, Judy Boggs,
Louise Gulyas and Jim Purnell – to bring the law back before the commissioners.

Heim, a resident of
Ocean Pines, said he would also be working with Bob Thompson, who plans to
challenge Worcester County Commissioner Judy Boggs for her seat in this year’s

Jack Davis, the man who
barked on his way out of the commissioners meeting to protest the decision
against the law, has not given up the fight either.

Davis has already

established an e-mail address ([email protected])

to gather comments and support from people frustrated over barking dogs. He
said he would give it about a month and see what support he garnered before
taking steps on a petition or to support a candidate for county commissioner
who agrees on the need for a barking dog law.

Davis also suggested
that people who would like to see the barking dog law reconsidered should call
their county commissioner to register a protest.

A classic car buff,
Davis spent time last weekend at a Cruisin’ event, during which he was
approached by about 20 people, 19 of whom supported his stance on the barking
dogs law, he said.

As for barking at the
commissioners meeting, Davis said he could either use profanity to express his
anger or he could bark. He chose to bark.

Shirley Aydelotte hopes
that something can still be done that would alleviate the problem, perhaps
through a different avenue such as zoning.

Aydelotte supports the
barking dog law because of a kennel of dogs near her house that bark
constantly. Perhaps kennels should not be allowed in a residential area, she

“I would like them to
reconsider [the law] but I would also like the law to have some teeth in it.
Don’t put it on the books if it’s not worth the paper it’s written on,”
Aydelotte said.

Supporters were
astonished that the law did not pass, given all the citizen support.

The commissioners even
amended the draft law during the meeting before voting on approval, which Davis
felt must mean that they were committed to making the law better right away, so
it could be implemented.

“I was very surprised,”
said Aydelotte. “I thought [Commission President Bud Church] had the support
and the votes.”

“The reasoning for not voting
for the law was so weak it was incredible,” Heim said.

“I wasn’t mad because I
lost,” said Davis. “It was the way that I lost.”

The commissioners harped
on the noise factor of barking dogs, Davis said, when it is not the noise level
but the repetitive and continuous nature of the canine noise that is the

“It just keeps going and
going and going. They didn’t seem to want to listen to me,” Davis said.

Some commissioners even
mentioned how they themselves were not bothered by barking dogs, Davis

“What they conveyed to
me was the dogs weren’t bothering them so it doesn’t bother someone else,”
Davis said.

Meanwhile, those who
suffer negative impacts to their quality of life from constantly barking dogs
continue to have no recourse except expensive, drawn out civil lawsuits.

The problem, Heim said,
is that a small percentage of dog owners are not responsible, and that local
law enforcement and animal control do not have the legal power to handle the
problem when a dog owner’s irresponsibility leads to a dog that barks 20
minutes or more at a time.

If they did have that
power, Heim said he is not confident, given his experiences trying to find a
remedy for a barking dog problem in the past, that police and animal control
would believe in the law enough to enforce it.

Very few people would be
negatively impacted by this law, Heim said, but many people would be positively
impacted, he felt.

“I just had such hope,”
Aydelotte said of the law.

“There’s dog and
nuisance laws all over the country and they work,” said Heim.