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JoAnna Lou
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Clarifying Barking Ordinances
Los Angeles city council votes to create a barking limit

Often times, I wake up during the night to the sound of my neighbor’s dog barking. Sometimes it’s accompanied by said neighbor yelling at the dog to be quiet. This almost never works, but it can be self-rewarding in the moment to the person, and unfortunately the dog. I have Shelties, so I know from personal experience!

A neighboring town has a barking limit that they recently put in place (ten minutes during the day and five minutes after 10 p.m.), but my city does not. However, other places are starting to follow suit.

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council approved an ordinance amendment that clarifies their guidelines for barking dogs. A violation is now defined as a dog barking continuously for ten minutes or intermittently for 30 minutes in a three-hour period. The plan has to be passed by the mayor before it’s put into action.

Barking ordinances can be good and bad news for pets. If they’re loosely defined, it can make it harder to weed out the legitimate cases. Some dogs may be unfairly targeted by people who don’t like pets or are feeling vengeful towards a neighbor.  

But if the ordinance is well defined, like the proposed amendment in Los Angeles, it can protect well behaved dogs and preserve resources, such as off-leash runs and pet-friendly apartments. What’s nice about Los Angeles’ ordinance is that all complaints will be handled on a case-by-case basis through the hearing process.

I would love it if the ordinance required offenders to meet with a dog trainer or behavior counselor. People may find barking annoying, but we should never forget that dogs bark for a reason.

What do you think about barking ordinances?

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by grilled cheese/flickr.

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