Barking mad

Harried victims of neighbors' persistently loud dogs deserve peace

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We’d call it a silent epidemic. Yet it’s anything but silent.

Barking dogs have become an increasing problem in Augusta's Harrisburg community. Fact is, almost everyone has a story to tell about a bothersome loud dog.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Barking dogs have become an increasing problem in Augusta's Harrisburg community. Fact is, almost everyone has a story to tell about a bothersome loud dog.

It’s the maddening problem of barking dogs.

We have found since a Feb. 10 news article in The Augusta Chronicle that almost everyone has a barking dog story – often a current, unresolved, pull-your-hair-out, day-in-day-out annoyance.

And as trivial as it sounds, the damage is very real.

Perhaps even more than sufferers know: The chronic barking of a neighbor’s dog can have a profound, unseen impact on you, as your nervous system – which affects other systems and organs in your body – is constantly asked to absorb “a loud, sudden, percussive burst of barking,” says

“When a dog barks, he creates sound waves,” the website explains. “Sound waves are real physical entities that have a real physical effect on our bodies. …

“It is normal and natural for people to be irritated and upset as a result of exposure to sound, especially loud, sharp sounds that erupt suddenly and without warning.”

And, we would add, one of the most maddening things about chronic barking is its indefiniteness: You never know when it’s going to end.

As further evidence of barking’s deleterious impact, notes that law enforcement agencies often use sound to drive criminals, hold-outs and despots to distraction to the point of giving themselves up.

“When the federal government wanted to push the Branch Davidians to the breaking point in the siege at Waco, they bombarded them with sound, including the sounds of animals in distress,” the website says. “When the U.S. military wanted to drive Manuel Noriega from his sanctuary in Panama, they used the same strategy, because they knew that chronic noise is an intolerable irritant that drives people frantic.”

Yet, owners and authorities act as if you’re being picky if you complain about the noise – which is no less pollution than any other form of it.

This area’s laws are laughably weak, too, when it comes to protecting innocent ears and nervous systems. You practically have to have a police officer witness a dog barking the length of War and Peace before they’ll do anything about it.

In Columbia County, for instance, it takes two signed witnesses to make written statements with specific dates and times of noise violations – and even then, a citation won’t be issued if the owner hasn’t been given a warning in the past three months.

One complainant in Columbia County whose neighbor left town and left the dog barking 24/7 was told by a sheriff’s officer there was nothing he could do.

So the barking goes on – adding an extraneous soundtrack to your favorite TV shows, distracting you from your reading or any other form of concentration, and making it difficult to sleep or even rest.

Sleep deprivation brings its own cavalcade of health impairments and quality-of-life issues.

For the life of us, we don’t have one earthly clue why dog owners would be so inconsiderate as to let their dogs go on like they do. It’s rude and thoughtless and, frankly, low class. And, as full of holes as the laws are, allowing dogs to bark ad infinitum is, inarguably, against the law.

As The Chronicle’s Feb. 10 article noted, “citations for excessive barking can be issued against dog owners, but authorities said that rarely happens because by the time deputies arrive to investigate, the dog is silent or can be calmed.”

This has to stop. Not only is it unfair and harmful to those who have to put up with it, but it can erode, if not destroy, the quality of life in a community.

The laws need stiffening. Citations must be issued with more certainty and frequency, and fines must be substantial enough to warrant an owner’s rapt attention.

As much as new laws, though, we need a renewed dedication to enforcing them.

The Sussex County Council in Delaware recently rejected a barking dog ordinance when they discovered a state statute covered the subject even better. Problem is, a Delaware official reports, “The Delaware State Police have been dispatched to 13 barking dog complaints in Sussex County from Jan. 1, 2013, until Jan. 22, 2014. Of those 13, 0 citations were issued.”

The barking dogs have been heard. Loud and clear.

It’s time for the beleaguered victims to be, too.

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iaaffg 02/23/14 - 07:46 am
totally agree something

totally agree something should be done about not just the barking dog but the ignorant owner even more so. we have this problem in our area. it's astounding how many people have a dog they just let out in the back yard, day in and day out, to do whatever and make whatever noise it desires to make, to bark at any and every little thing that catches it's attention. and apparently for some dogs, even a leaf drifting to the ground can send 'em off in a frenzy. officers should be writing out citations even if they show up for a complaint and the dog has ceased barking; what's the good of an anti-dog barking ordinance if those in power never even attempt to enforce it or write out a simple citation? there's always that paper trail to use to eventually fine someone for their aggravating canines, and fine them big, not a little slap on your wrist fine, either. it's a shame for the dogs, though; they are just being dogs. the real culprits here are the ignorant, rude, crude owners who firmly believe they and theirs live in a bubble.

myfather15 02/23/14 - 08:06 am
Officers CAN NOT just issue a

Officers CAN NOT just issue a citation, if they have nothing to substantiate the allegation. Yes, this is a serious issue, I agree with that. I've had my own very personal issues with barking dogs, and actually call law enforcement myself. Years ago, when I worked night shift, my neighbor had a dog that would literally bark all day long at squirrels, birds and just about anything else!! I spoke with the neighbor several times and she would just say "It's my son's dog and I've tried to stop him, but I can't do anything about it." Therefore the next time, I called law enforcement. They DID hear the dog and eventually (I believe it was the third time) they issued a citation.

myfather15 02/23/14 - 08:17 am
But there is another avenue

But there is another avenue to take against people with barking dogs, which is CIVIL Court!

If you're not getting the justice you believe is deserving, you can video and audio record the dogs barking, causing loss of sleep, headaches or other health issues, loss of work production, etc; and use this as evidence in civil court. You SUE them in small claims court; which could result in a judgment of up to a few thousand dollars. Trust me, if your neighbor gets a judgment against them for a couple thousand because of their dog, you won't see that dog around very much longer!! Sometimes you've got to force them into action!!

There are some very irresponsible dog owners in this world and many of them. But when it starts costing them money out of their pockets, they will usually take action.

Riverman1 02/23/14 - 08:25 am
Great advice from MyFather.

Great advice from MyFather.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 02/23/14 - 09:37 am
Junket103 02/23/14 - 10:00 am

Excellent editorial. People who allow their dog or dogs to bark endlessly act like they live on 100 acre farm. They don't. It is totally disrespectful to your neighbors and the community in general. It reflects our society's decent into the "it's all about me" culture. Let's tighten the rules for this type of abuse and give duputies and code enforcement the power to quickly mitigate this abuse. It is a form of animal cruelty and indicates the owner is not taking proper care of their animals.

localguy55 02/23/14 - 10:22 am
Many many years ago there

Many many years ago there were no laws to handle such problems as I had a similar situation in another town. My neighbors dog was pinned up next to my window and barked all night.

I asked her to do something about her barking dog, but she paid no heed. So, I called the police and they explained that they could ask her to do something but had no authority to issue a citation. The relentless barking continued.

One night around 1 a.m. the barking began as usual. It was mid January and very cold. I crept out of my back door and grabbed the water hose. I got to the fence wash ol blue profusely. The barking stopped.
The next night it began again and so did soaking number two.

After the third and last soaking, there was silence and ol blue was as quiet as a church mouse at night. As a matter of fact, for the most part ol blue was a kinder and gentler mutt, rarely raising a fuss about much.

And the neighbors were happy and the cats were happy and the squirrels were happy and we all lived in happily ever after, even ol blue.

GiantsAllDay 02/23/14 - 11:46 am
We need to lighten up. The

We need to lighten up. The dogs are just communicating with each other. Here is the barking translated into English:

Jake 02/23/14 - 12:04 pm
Yip, Yip, Yip

Being in the cabinet business, I have to venture into the houses of clients to measure. The ones I dread are the ones when you ring the doorbell and hear a bark. I know what the routine is going to be when I enter:
a. Owner holds dog back
b. Dog sneaks up and puts snout in crotch
c. Owner scolds dog
d. Owner wonders why you don't pet said mutt
e. Jake has to wash hands thoroughly before leaving

Then there is the terrier breed. Everything is nice and quiet and out of nowhere, like a sneak attack, comes that loud high pitched "Yip, Yip, Yip". Needless to say, when that happens, thoughts of limb shredders flash through my head.

seenitB4 02/23/14 - 12:07 pm
GAD & Jake

Yall are too funny! :)

jimmymac 02/23/14 - 03:09 pm

You have to wonder why some people even have dogs in the first place. They ignore them, leave them out in all weather conditions and never pay attention to them. After a spell of being ignored and neglected the dog is just about nuts for lack of attention and affection. They're barking because they're bored and neglected!

corgimom 02/23/14 - 11:58 pm
Dogs bark. And just like

Dogs bark.

And just like there are inconsiderate people that own dogs, there are people that have totally unrealistic expectations.

Cities are very noisy places. There is constant noise, and a dog isn't any different.

I had a neighbor that complained about my dog. We made absolutely sure that the dog was in the house by 9 pm every night, so that our neighbors all around us would never be disturbed.

So then he used to go out to his garage and do woodwork projects, and run a big table saw until 11 pm. And had no problem with that.

Dogs aren't the only nuisances.

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