Though some owners like hearing their dogs expressing themselves, an incessantly barking pooch next door can rank with a crying baby on an airplane as one of the bigger nuisances that the listener can’t really control. But officials in Hurst, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, are attempting to join a list of places that try to do just that.
The ordinance currently on the books in Hurst gives law enforcement or animal control officers the power to give owners a warning if their dog barks and disturbs neighbors on a regular basis. Owners then have 24 hours to get their dog to be quieter. However, there is no enforcement mechanism for repeated warnings, and officers have grown tired of speaking over and over to the same people about the same dogs.
But a new proposal, currently before the city council and awaiting a vote, would allow officers to cite the owner of the rambunctious dog on any of their return trips to the property, eliminating the quieting period of one day.
In 2010, Hurst city officials have responded to 24 complaints about noisy dogs – in a town of under 37,000 people – and have cited only six households.
While noise ordinances are common, only select cities and states have laws specific to the noise made by excited dogs. Oregon calls any dog that makes “frequent or prolonged noises” a nuisance to the public. Massachusetts can order an owner to get rid of their pet if a city council hearing determines that to be necessary in solving the barking problem in the neighborhood. And Connecticut can fine an owner up to $100 and/or sentence them to a month in jail if their dog disturbs “any sick person residing in the immediate vicinity.”
The Hurst City Council is to vote on the proposal to, depending on your point of view, either restrict dogs’ freedom of speech or liberate residents’ eardrums, next week.