Landlord/Tenant Q&A: Catherine M. Matthews (R), GRI

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Q. There is a dog next door to me that barks endlessly. I have tried talking to my neighbor, videoing the dog barking for 15 minutes straight multiple times to show the neighbor because they don’t believe me. The dog rarely barks when they are home unless someone comes right to the property so they think they have an angelic dog. It is a nice dog, except for the barking. I cannot enjoy being in my home when this is going on; I tried calling the Humane Society but they said they do not respond to barking dogs anymore and I should call the police.

I am hesitant to call the police for this, is that really what I should do?

A. Yes, the police department has handled calls about barking dogs since August 2013.

Hesitancy is understandable in this case, considering the more serious offenses the police must deal with such as burglaries, domestic disputes, and other community emergencies. By contrast a complaint about a barking dog seems trivial.

However, in performing research for this article, I called the Pearl City police department, and the officer who handled my questions did not trivialize the problem or make me feel as though it was not a priority for them. The officer met with me and provided a copy of the HPD policy 4.26 Animal Nuisance complaints. His attitude was that legitimate disturbances are important, the public is entitled to relief from these problems, and it is HPD’s job to take action to care for the citizens. He added that as with all other complaints, reports are made and prioritized, but safety concerns would take precedence over nuisance complaints.

Animal nuisance is defined as any animal, farm animal, or poultry that makes noise continuously for 10 or more minutes or intermittently for at least 30 min utes. The noise can be a bark, howl, cry, whine, crow, or other unreasonable noise. HPD is encouraged to provide warnings for first offense unless it is a dog bite, and will provide the warning even if you have already asked your neighbor to quiet the offending animal any number of times. It served as a formal notification that the animal is offending someone and allows reasonable time to correct the problem.

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However, it’s important to note that you must be on hand to meet with the police officer if you make a complaint and want HPD follow-up. If you are not willing to meet with the officer, no officer will be dispatched, unless the noise complaint is connected with burglary or another criminal offense. The officer will initiate a miscellaneous crime report and submit it to the owner of the animal if the officer finds the complaint is founded. It is very helpful to keep a log and/or video as you have been doing. This helps the police officer confirm that the complaint is legitimate. After the initial warning, if there are additional offenses, a citation may be given. Fines can range from $50 and escalate based on continued repeated infractions to a maximum of $1,000 and/or 30 days in jail.

So in summary, yes, if the dog is bothering you and barking in a manner that falls within the guidelines above, you should call the police. You did the right thing in approaching your neighbor first to make them aware of the problem, especially since the dog only barks when they are not at home. Hopefully a warning from an officer will make them take notice and realize the problem is serious and correct their pet’s behavior.

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