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Barking Dogs & Animal Rights
Since the early 80s I have been plagued with numerous
sources of excessive noise. By far, nuisance barking
dogs have presented the greatest threat to my health
The health threat comes mainly from sleep deprivation.
Over the years I have suffered thousands of sleep
interruptions from this noise source. Much of the
time I have worked in a home office, and daytime
nuisance barkers have frequently driven me and my
notebook computer to seek the sanctity of quiet libraries
to complete necessary tasks.
The barking dog problem is related to animal abuse
and neglect. Once I paid a professional fee to an animal
behavior expert to provide me a written opinion on this
subject. It boils down to this: a barking dog nuisance
is a neglected animal. She called it "separation anxiety."
The biggest offenders are dogs which are left in the yard
24 hours a day with little attention from their owners.
They express their anxiety by continual barking.
Municipal law enforcement here does little to control the
problem. Although the city codes define barking dog
nuisances and prohibit them, enforcement mechanisms
are weak. Police are unable to write citations to offenders.
Those suffering from the noise have the option of signing
complaints themselves, but this invites hatred and retaliation
from the dog owners.
I am told that 150 dogs are put to death each week by
local animal control authorities in this municipality of
about 80,000. This amounts to 7800 annually. In a
recent USA Today (5/12/97) it was reported that for the
nation the 1996 figure was 1.5 million dogs killed.
Where do these dogs come from? Our urban centers
do not have native populations of wild dogs. It is
reasonable to assume that each and every one of these
dogs once had a relationship with a human, but was
When I was growing up, it was assumed that taking
a dog into a household was a commitment for the life
of a dog. No one in my neighborhood would have ever
thought of taking their family pet to the shelter just
because it wasn't "working out." This ethic seems to
have changed. Many seem to think of dogs as disposable.
People with that mentality should never be allowed to
become dog owners.
The USA Today story reported that animal rights activists
are advocating "no kill" shelters. Municipal animal control
authorities say that this is "impractical." The debate is
off the track.
What we really need is a complete overhaul of our animal
control ordinances. Owning a dog, like driving a car, should
no longer be considered a right, but a privilege. Dog owners
should be given permits on the basis of passing an exam
demonstrating competence, responsibility, and knowledge
of good practices for dog care along with municipal ordinances
defining and controlling animal nuisance behavior. Police
need to be empowered to write citations to violators. Those
who don't play by the rules should be fined, and in the event
of repeat violations, should forfeit their right to own a dog.
Does anyone know of any municipalities which have moved in
-- Michael Wright
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