Ask A Cop: Can I Call the Police on a Barking Dog?

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When can a person call the cops on a neighbor's barking dog?


We don’t go out on barking dogs at all. It’s a nuisance complaint so we are not going to respond in person. If there is something else going on, like the person can see the dog and it doesn’t have food and water or it is tangled, that would be different. That would be a neglect call. But if it’s simply barking, we won’t respond in person.

In a situation like this, what we do is direct people to our website, www.scanimalshelter.org, and that explains everything they can do. There is basically a lot of information that explains how the barking process works. They can file a complaint online. When they fill out an online complaint Animal Services sends out a notice that there is a complaint. The dog owner then has 30 days to abate the nuisance. If the 30 days has passed, and there is still a problem, Animal Services will send a second notice to the animal owner that gives them an additional 15 days to abate the nuisance. If after the end of the 15-day period the noise is still a problem, you and other households that have kept similar logs can cite the animal owner. County guidelines for public nuisance complaints state that there must be a minimum of two complaints from separate households.

If someone did actually call the police, the police will usually refer them back to us. As a general rule, I don’t think people should be calling the police about a barking dog. Honestly, most of the barking issues are not an ongoing problem. It’s usually an issue where someone went out of town for the weekend and the dog was left, or its routine has been disrupted in some way.

Honestly the best way to solve a barking dog problem is to communicate with your neighbor. If that doesn’t help then maybe try going to some sort of mediation. We really recommend that people try and communicate.

~Lisa Holland, Field Services Dispatcher, Santa Cruz County Animal Services

Butch Cole September 11, 2012 at 12:02 PM
I REALLY hope that the responding officer moves in next door to a family that doesn't "speak english" that has a dog that barks from sunset until LATE at night!
Cathy P. September 11, 2012 at 02:39 PM
"Honestly, most of the barking issues are not an ongoing problem." ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HA, honestly? Which is exactly why our Animal Shelter is completely useless in regard to the barking dogs issue. The neighbors directly behind us and on one side have 5 dogs collectively and the barking goes on ALL DAY LONG. We've called the Animal Shelter, we've requested welfare checks when the dogs next door were tethered to a tree 24 hours a day, we've filed complaints, we've kept the stupid "barking dog log" they require - NOTHING IS DONE! If I weren't such an animal lover in general, I'd do something about it myself -but I could never hurt an animal. I do realize it's the negligent uncaring owner's fault and not the dog.
Susan O'Day September 11, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Or one that has their pet chained to a chair outside all day and night!
Jennifer Squires September 11, 2012 at 03:57 PM
I didn't know about the online form until now. I just filed a complaint about a neighbor. Thanks, Animal Services.
David H. Perez September 11, 2012 at 04:18 PM
So, Lisa Holland, you are saying we are basically on our own. My property faces two houses that have had HABITUALLY barking dogs for years. Calling animal control has been a waste of time. The owners of these dogs are not reasonable people (the Patch will censor me if I say what I really think of them), and they just say their dogs have a right to bark (is this guaranteed in the Constitution?). During our last discussion with one of them called my wife was called the "b" word. Real classy people. As the VICTIM of this constant noise pollution, I am appalled at the lengths victims have to go through to get even minimal toothless results. You folks just help to re-victimize the victims. I agree with Cathy P. - I would never hurt an animal and I realize the real problem is the owners, not the dogs. But these situations are so frustrating, I can sure understand what drives some people to take the problem into their own hands!
Watzon McWats September 11, 2012 at 09:14 PM
A-freaking-men! I've called animal services so many times and they rarely ever show up. The neglected and sometimes even stray dogs are still there - years later. Same bark, different day. There's been some nights when the barking and crying has been so bad that I've almost lost my... *stuff*. Watsonville has some SERIOUS animal neglect issues. Bring your dogs inside at night, take them for walks, make them a part of your family. They're pets, not farm animals. You can't simply pour food in their bowls and walk away.
Watzon McWats September 11, 2012 at 09:25 PM
"Honestly the best way to solve a barking dog problem is to communicate with your neighbor". Sounds great in a utopian world, but here's how it actually goes down in Watsonville (my personal real world experience): Me: *nock nock nock*. Hey man, hows it goin? So yeah, you're chihuahuas have been barking non stop for like a month. Neighbor (who barely speaks English): They want to come inside. Me: So... Why not let them inside? Neighbor: They're outside dogs. Me: Hmmmm... Uh hey, maybe we should walk our dogs together sometime? Neighbor: Yeah, sure... whatever. The other neighbor dogs bark too. I give them an honest week to turn things around, then start calling Animal Services... NOTHIN'! Same story with the stray dogs, other neighbors, etc. People here buy dogs, especially chihuahuas and other small breeds as yard decorations. They buy them in bunches, 2-4+ at a time, and never bother to care for them, play with them, bring them in the house, etc. Not only do the dogs deserve better, but I deserve a good night's sleep and to be able to walk my own dog without being harassed by aggressive strays.
Watzon McWats September 11, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Oops, didn't mean to send this as a reply to your comment Dave. But anyway... :-)
Mary Smith September 11, 2012 at 09:31 PM
In my opinion, Animal Control is totally worthless! We had issues with our neighbor's barking/roaming dogs. We spoke to the people who, basically, told us to go to hell. We called Animal Control. They sent their useless letter to the people, who ignored it. Another call ... another letter, also ignored. Third call. AC came out. They spoke to the neighbor who lied through her teeth and blamed her kids for leaving the gate open! Following the visit, the neighbors kept the dogs in and quiet for 3 days, until the dust settled, and then they were at it again. Another call to AC who, this time, said we needed to provide photos and fill out a formal complaint. We provided 13 photos, and went to the shelter to fill out a formal complaint. Nothing changed. Then AC told us we had to cite the neighbors ourselves even though we had provided them with everything they needed! These neighbors were the type of people who retaliate. If we were to follow up, they would certainly know who cited them, and we would be putting ourselves and our property at risk! Animal Control was NO help when we needed them! They left us on our own with NO support! Lisa Holland from Animal Control recommends that people try and communicate. Well, Lisa, that might work with decent, reasonable people who want to be respectful of their neighbors. But, when that fails, you there at AC are NO help at all! You pass the buck right back to those who need your help! Thanks for nothing!!!
Mary Smith September 11, 2012 at 09:58 PM
To Lisa Holland, Field Services Dispatcher, Santa Cruz County Animal Services: I figure it's one of two things. Either you don't LIVE near disrespectful, nuisance neighbors who have annoying, barking dogs ... OR ... you ARE one! Either way, you just don't get it! I'm sorry! I'm just really REALLY aggravated with your response, and the way you dump the responsibility for fixing the problem back onto the people who are having the problem to begin with!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!
Cathy P. September 11, 2012 at 10:06 PM
OMG "my dogs have a right to bark," now I've heard everything. Life, liberty and the right to bark .... jeez!
Mary Smith September 12, 2012 at 01:07 AM
I wish you good luck with your situation! The only way your complaint will work is, of course, if your neighbors are willing to acknowledge the problem and work with you. Beyond that, Animal Control will be of no help whatsoever!
Yolanda September 14, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Wow, I thought it was just my neighborhood. We've asked politely, cultivated a neighborly relationship, written notes, and asked about walking the dogs. SC Animal Shelter, please reconsider the no anonymous complaints policy. And please help us make our neighborhoods nicer places to live by removing nuisance dogs from houses where they are just not cared for. We have always had dogs as part of the family and would never dream of torturing a dog by not allowing it to be part of the pack and keeping it isolated, scared and lonely. Isn't it part of the mandate of the shelter to stop animals from being kept in these conditions?
kristylynne September 26, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Yes i also live near barking and roaming dogs, the animal control or the spca needs to start making it possible for people to be able to do something about it.... Or you could just blast brotha lynch over the fence at 3 am lol
HizDesign October 11, 2012 at 05:43 PM
These are interesting comments. We have a dog, a pit, who is not only people-friendly, but animal-friendly as well. She often sits with us on the front porch, and because now & then someone will come by and tease her, we keep her on a leash/collar tethered to the rail of the front porch WHILE WE ARE OUTSIDE WITH HER. Her lead is long enough to let her roam a bit while keeping her away from people. She is a pit, so her face says "Hello I am a Pit", and people many times are afraid just because of her face. We've seen them move OFF the sidewalk and walk down in the gutter while passing our house, and we have a full-length fence with a closed gate in front! A few months back Animal Services paid us a visit on a complaint that there was a dog at our address TIED ON TOO SHORT A LEAD. They also told us that our dog MUST HAVE water outside at all t imes (Uh hello? She lives IN OUR HOUSE WITH US), and that her lead must be lengthened enough for her to get down on the sidewalk....(Apparently so she can really scare the living daylights out of our neighbors & anyone else who passes by, when she walks up to sniff and lick them)...they really gave us the run-around, even thought we made sure they knew that she will always go in the house when she has had enough, that she LOVES laying in the sun, and that the ONLY time she is there without us is when we go in to grab a cup of coffee or a book and return back to the porch. OMG we left her outside for 10 minutes without water!
Watzon McWats October 11, 2012 at 10:31 PM
People in Watsonville (adults included) are scared of any dog over 10lbs. Three years here and I'm still scratching my head every time.
randy October 11, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Now here is a funny one. We have "new" people in our neighborhood. These"new" people are well known in the Watsonville community. We actually live in the unincorporated area of Watsonville. So these "new" people that are constant city council meeting attendees, move and bring three chihuahua dogs that bark all the time. When they bark then our normally quiet neighborhood dogs join in. (wonder if this person will still cause issues at the council meetings since he isn't in the city) Randy ... just giving my quarters worth
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barking dogs should be euthanized January 21, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Wow. I'm glad I don't live in Watsonville. Nice that law enforcement has a "not my problem" attitude. Glad the community I live in actually does something about this type of problem.
barking dogs should be euthanized January 21, 2013 at 07:54 PM
oh yeah, the owners should be euthanized, too.
Meg Kordosky May 28, 2013 at 08:34 AM
Get some ear plugs, dogs bark as their way of speaking... OR MOVE MAKE IT EASIER ON EVERYONE. IT'S A DOG GET OVER IT.
Brock Hackleburger October 28, 2013 at 08:17 PM
"Honestly the best way to solve a barking dog problem is to communicate with your neighbor." Nope. Why should that even be necessary? They know damned well that their dogs are waking people up. Oblivious, disrespectful people like that are unlikely to do anything about it. What would they do anyway? Get rid of the dogs? To Ms. Kordosky and her ilk, perhaps I'll put a jet engine in my back yard and explain, "Oh, roaring at 140 decibels is their way of generating thrust." When you get a pet for yourself, it's YOUR legal and logical responsibility to prevent it from annoying neighbors.
Cathy P. October 29, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Well said Brock Hackleburger. I would like to take back my criticisms of Animal Control. We have contacted them twice about barking issues at the rental next door and I am happy to report that most of the barking (except for some howling) has stopped. Lisa Holland has been very attentive and has made our lives much quieter. To Meg Korodorsky: your comment is as ignorant as one can get imho


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