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By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace
QUESTION: We are having an issue with our neighbor’s dog’s constant barking at 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. This morning, it started at 6 a.m. and didn’t stop until after 8 a.m. The dog isn’t barking all the time, but about every five minutes, we get a solid minute or two of barking. This happens three to four times a week. We are sick of it.
I know there are noise ordinances in place for this. I don’t want it to come to this, but I have talked to them several times about it, and they just don’t hear it.
They play it down, saying, “Oh, she probably just saw a squirrel or a cat.” I have offered to split the cost of a bark collar for their dog. They said thanks but it’s their dog and they need to take care of it. This conversation happened about a week and a half ago. What would be the proper way to remedy it? What are the penalties from the city if I call and complain about it?
If you don’t like confrontation, I would suggest you get a noise canceler for your room.
If not, I would let your neighbors know the next actions you are about to take. If they have the same nonchalant reaction, then I would complain to the city.
This question has come up in various forms since we began this column several years ago, and there are no easy answers.
Suggestions have ranged from buying a high-pitched device to project into their yard to spraying some kind of citrus odor at the dog, in addition to talking to the neighbors directly.
But you’ve already taken steps to mend this with your neighbors amicably. You can try one more time to talk to them by asking them if they had come up with a solution for their barking dogs; if not, tell them nicely and possibly apologetically that it is worse than they think it is and that you may have to call the city to complain.
I looked up the city of Oklahoma City’s rules regarding this issue, and you can call the Action Center on weekdays at 297-2535 or after hours to the Emergency Operations Center at 297-2255 to report barking dogs.
Other cities likely have their own ordinances and phone numbers, but in Oklahoma City, “It is illegal to allow any animal to continuously bark, howl or otherwise disturb the peace,” reads the municipal code. “Officers can issue a citation to the owner if a citizen is willing to sign a complaint … Certain conditions must be met in order for the owner to maintain custody of the animal.”
So at this point, you have to decide whether you want to keep peace in your home or with your neighbors.
The barking dog question continues to come up and that is probably because people don’t think it is very mannerly or neighborly to confront the issue.
An excellent family therapist suggested that people can communicate by mail. Write down the times the dog barks and the length of time it continues. Let them know, in writing, that the barking needs to stop, or you plan to contact the authorities. Be nice, but firm.
Rules about barking dogs vary in different cities. Call and find out about homeowners’ rights.
Richard Rosser, author of “Piggy Nation”: The problem of annoying neighbor pets has plagued homeowners since man first moved into the cave.
Here are several possible solutions: keep a log of the barking and appeal to your neighbor; purchase some wax earplugs; file a complaint with the authorities; buy an air horn and blast it whenever the dog barks; move.