Change in law has residents howling mad
Dear Answer Man, why fix something that's not broken? That's my question regarding the Rochester City Council's decision to make a revision to the barking dog ordinance. Who decided to bring it forward in the first place and why? — Long-time fan and first-time writer, Sue
The City Council voted 6-1 on March 21 to approve the first reading of the ordinance change, but opponents have been howling since then, complaining about dogs that haven't even barked yet, and it'll be interesting to see whether council members have been flipped.
Who let the dogs out on this one? A city resident brought it up at the council's Committee of the Whole meeting on Feb. 28 . Council members must have thought it was a good idea because President Dennis Hanson directed City Attorney Terry Adkins to draw up a possible ordinance change. As summarized in the minutes of that meeting , "the City Attorney was asked to draft a possible ordinance amendment that would state that a dog owner playing or exercising his or her dog would not violate the barking dog ordinance should the dog bark, whine or cry."
Here's the complete text of the ordinance , with the amendment in boldface.
"It shall constitute a nuisance and be unlawful if any dog barks, whines, howls, bays, cries or makes other noise excessively so as to cause annoyance, disturbance or discomfort to any individual provided that such noise lasts for a period of more than five minutes continuously or intermittent barking that continues for more than one hour and is plainly audible outside the property limits of where the dog is kept. It shall not be a violation of this section if the dog was barking, crying or making other noise: (a) due to harassment or injury to the dog or a trespass upon the premises where the dog is located; or (b) while the dog's owner is physically present with the dog, and is engaged in playing with or exercising the dog."
Seems reasonable to me. Would a guy who's playing with his dog in his yard be likely to tolerate the dog barking its head off for more than five minutes, or howling intermittently for more than an hour? Who does that? I've never had a neighbor who did that and I've lived in cities for more years than I care to reveal. If I did have that kind of neighbor, I'd go next door and have a chat.
You might argue that the ordinance requires MORE responsibility by the dog owner, not less.
The ordinance change may be a solution in search of a problem, but I'm amazed at the backlash, led in part by Council Member Michael Wojcik, who according to the minutes believes "citizens do not want to hear dogs barking."
Well, we all share this city with 106,000 people and thousands of dogs. We all make noise now and then. I recommend talking to your neighbor if you've got a problem.