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/ DEVELOPMENTS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

New Law May Put Bite on Barking Dogs

March 07, 2000

REDONDO BEACH — City Council members tonight are expected to give final approval to a controversial dog-barking ordinance that would treat loud pooches the same as wild parties.

Under the proposed law, after neighbors complained about a dog, police would visit the barking residence, listen to make sure the dog barked for a full five minutes, and then would give the owner a warning, along with tips on how to make the dog stop barking. If the dog got a second noise complaint within 24 hours, the owner would be slapped with a $78 fine, which would increase to $98 if not paid within two weeks.

Although many California cities have laws against barking dogs, Erin Maurie of the League of California Cities said she knows of no other city that has extended its party ordinance to apply to dogs.

The city of 64,000 residents got about 1,200 barking-dog complaints last year, according to Mike Magdaleno, who is the head of Redondo Beach's code enforcement division.

But Councilman Kevin Sullivan, who was the only one of the five council members to vote against a first reading of the ordinance last month, said treating dogs as if they were parties won't work.

"I know that a barking dog can drive you crazy, but it just doesn't make sense to use the noise ordinance," he said. Sullivan said the city's current method of dealing with noisy dogs, which involves sending dog owners and angry neighbors to mediation, is working well. Shutting a dog up is not as easy as pulling the plug on the stereo, Sullivan said. People need time to train their dog not to bark.

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