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Just let me howl a bit about the proposed changes to the barking dog ordinance

I'll be polite. This an extreme example of, well, misguided government.

In case you were out walking your dog when Wednesday's P-B arrived at your home... The Rochester City Council wants to relax the ordinance that makes it possible for citizens to be cited and fined for allowing a dog to bark incessantly at all hours of the day and night.

After a first reading, the council voted 6-1 to make a revision in the barking dog ordinance that would make it OK for dogs to bark, and bark and bark and bark, as long as the owner is "physically present with the dog, and is engaged in playing with or exercising the dog."

I don't always agree with outspoken Council Member Michael Wojcik, but he's dead right on this one.

"First of all," Wojcik said during Tuesday's council meeting, "this basically says that owners allowing their dogs to bark in neighborhoods is OK, and my common sense is that is not what neighbors want, is more barking dogs."

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He added that the ordinance will be more difficult to enforce than the existing law because when a police officer or animal control officer arrives at a dog owner's home with a citation after receiving a complaint, all the dog owner has to do is say he was "playing" with the dog the whole time, and he'll be off the hook.

Police Chief Roger Peterson echoed those concerns.

Whose idea was this?

I love dogs, and I'm a dog owner. But nothing annoys me more than to be trying to sleep or I'm relaxing on the patio on a warm summer evening when a dog who wants to get in the house starts barking and doesn't stop for anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours.

Relaxing this ordinance does indeed send the wrong message to those few inconsiderate pet owners who go out for the evening and leave their bark-happy dogs in the yard while they're gone, or who close up all the doors and windows and turn up the music so they won't be annoyed by their own dogs.

Bad idea, city council. 

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