Question: My neighbor's dog barks excessively, especially at night. I've reported the problem to our property manager, but all he offered to do was send a notice to the tenant who owns the dog.
Is there anything I can do to resolve this issue?
Answer: Everybody has the right to peace and quiet. The property manager should take an active role, especially if the barking creates a nuisance, which violates most lease terms.
Management should send a letter to the tenant to make him or her aware of the noise situation and attempt to resolve the situation.
Your rights are protected by law in virtually all jurisdictions. Los Angeles municipal code states, "It is against the law for a dog owner, or anyone in control or custody of a dog, to allow the dog to make excessive noise, after receiving a legal notice of the noise complaint and a request to make it stop."
The Orange County ordinance, which covers about 14 communities plus all unincorporated areas, defines the violation: "A dog that barks, bays, cries, howls or makes any noise for an extended period of time. . . . Such extended period of time shall consist of incessant barking for 30 minutes or more in any 24-hour period, or intermittent barking for 60 minutes or more during any 24-hour period."
Although the specifics vary in other locales, the message is clear: Dogs cannot disturb their neighbors. Enforcement is by the governing agency that addresses this specific problem.
Your local animal services department takes the issue of dog barking seriously. A formal process exists in most places, starting with a properly written complaint.
To assist, most cities and counties have formal online complaint forms. In the city of Los Angeles, visit www.laanimalservices.org, which provides the link to barking dog situations and forms. According to the site, interfering with your ability to enjoy your residence is considered "excessive noise" and a violation of law.
For other jurisdictions, including unincorporated L.A. County plus 50 incorporated cities in the county, check out animalcare.lacounty.gov/.
When you're ready to file a complaint, be prepared to provide details and be as specific as possible. "There's a barking dog in my neighborhood" won't solve the problem.
The complaint should detail the circumstances and nature of the animal noise. Does the hound bay at the moon or bark during the day when the owner is away?
If possible, enlist the aid of neighbors who also may be affected and willing to file a complaint.
You'll also need to include the name and address of the offending party as well your own name and address. According to the site, personal information will not be released to the animal owner.
Once the complaint is submitted, the animal services department will issue a formal letter to the dog owner warning that the noise must be stopped immediately. In most cases, the warning gets the dog owner's attention, and the owner resolves the problem.
If the noise continues after a specified period of time, usually about two weeks, another complaint can be filed. To give the complaint more teeth, keep a "barking dog log." A sample is available at www.crd.bc.ca. This well-organized log can help you document the exact information to back up the complaint; date, start time, source, type and quantity of barking and how that specific incident affects you.
Ultimately, the case may be referred to court or mediation. At that point, you or any other complainants have to be willing to testify under oath regarding the disturbance.
What if the dog owner does not abate the noise?
In extreme cases, animal services may opt to remove the animal from the premises, taking it to a local shelter or animal rescue agency. Ideally, you should work with your landlord and neighbor so the situtation never gets to this point.
Have a comment or concern? Send it to hmayspitz@gmail .com.