Law gets new teeth against noisy canines

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Officials say barking dogs are a big problem in /*Riverside County*/, but it's an even bigger problem to enforce any laws to stop the noise. So on Tuesday officials worked out a new law to help.

In Woodcrest it seems like almost every neighborhood has a number of dogs. Many of them do what they do best: bark.

Stephanie and Pat Meech own three /*German Shepherds*/. They know all too well barking can sometimes get out of hand.

"It seems like the entire neighborhood ... One gets going and then they all get going around here ... 10, 12, 2 in the morning," said Stephanie Meech.

For years, /*Animal Control*/ officers have been relatively powerless. Neighbors would complain, but besides forcing offenders to pay fines, not much could be done. But on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors acted unanimously to put some teeth in the /*nuisance law*/. Now, officers don't even have to show up at the offending residence. They can simply send a notice.

If there are enough complaints, then the offending dog owner will have to show up at a hearing; where they can be ordered to do much more than simply pay fines.

"Ordering that the animal be removed certain times of the day when it's barking and not left in the yard ... To using devices to keep the dog from barking ... such as a muzzle or something like that," said Frank Corvino, Riverside County Animal Services.

If the offender fails to address the problem, they could be fined up to $500. If the dog continues to be a nuisance, animal control has the authority to take the animal away altogether.

Although the law is aimed at curbing unwanted noise, it is one that concerns some. The Meeches hope enforcement doesn't get out of hand. They say there is only so much they can do.

"Some people who don't have animals would be really appreciative of that law. But with all the coyotes we have around here at night, they get to howling, and it sets these dogs off. And it's kind of a chain reaction in the neighborhood," said Pat Meech.

The law provides for a hearing so that both sides of the arguments can be heard.

The law will go in to effect in 30 days.

The law doesn't only apply to dogs. It applies to loud donkeys and pesky peacocks as well.



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