Dog’s bark can be worse than bite

This is the case when a dog’s bark is worse than its bite.

The Kauai County Council on Wednesday considered a bill that aims to curb excessive barking complaints by educating dog owners and step up noise enforcement efforts.

We applaud the county’s efforts to seek a solution to this problem because, cliqués aside, barking dogs are no laughing matter.

We don’t like to see government involved where it’s not necessary, but this isn’t one such case. The constant bark of a dog can absolutely keep someone awake. It can drive you a little crazy, make you a little nuts. Who wants to hear their neighbor’s dog sounding off morning, noon and night?

When it comes to dogs, some of their owners are sometimes simply not aware of the noise or that they’re even disturbing neighbors. All it takes is a courtesy visit and request and things will quiet down.

But some owners believe it’s their right to let their dog bark just as much as it wants. Someone walking by the house? Bark away. Cat nearby? Start barking. Noise just around the corner. That, too, is enough to set off several minutes of shrill yapping from man’s best friend.

Occasional barking comes with a dog. That’s to be expected. That’s why some of us have dogs, to serve as guards and alert us if something is amiss. There are absolutely times we want them to bark and wake us. But when the barking is excessive, goes on too long, too often, it’s time for the dog’s owner to recognize that and be respectful of a neighbor’s desire for peace and quiet.

The proposed ordinance, Bill 2516, defines excessive barking as dog noises made during any time of the day or evening, regardless of whether it is made on private property, “continuously or incessantly for a period of 10 minutes” or “intermittently for a period of 20 minutes within a 30-minute period of time.”

But before you approach a neighbor about Rover’s overly loud and frequent barking, be prepared for a not-so-friendly response. Depending on how well you know your neighbor, you could be greeted with a bit of hostility. Not everyone likes to hear from the person next door complaining about dog noise.

The County of Kauai is the only county in the state that does not have a law to address noise complaints from barking dogs. And county officials report there has been an increasing number of barking dog complaints. There were 158 excessive barking complaints received by the Kauai Humane Society during the 2012 fiscal year — a slight jump from 140 from the year before. Some folks say they’re forced to sleep in the living room to escape Spot’s constant cry.

We agree the county needs an ordinance on this issue. At the end of the day, it may just give some folks the peace and quiet they’re hoping for, and that’s not too much to ask.


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