Starting Nov. 16, any resident of Riverside annoyed by a neighbor’s dog’s incessant barking may call Animal Control Services and file a complaint anonymously. This comes via a new city ordinance hoping to address excessive dog barking by making the complaint process more seamless. Though, the city’s effort is shortsighted. While it is important to control barking when it becomes a public nuisance, this new ordinance only facilitates rash decision-making for people who are easily irritable and has negative repercussions for the health and safety of dogs.
Previously, people had to jump through more hurdles to file a complaint about a neighbor’s noisy animals, including testifying under penalty of perjury. That risk of perjury and the lack of anonymity, according to Riverside Councilman Mike Soubirous, intimidated many residents. However, the newly proposed change enables a plethora of unjustified complaints. As Twelve Camacho, president of Riverside’s Army Animal Rescue, told the Press-Enterprise, “If you make it easier to complain, everyone’s going to do it, because there’s no accountability.” More so, in many cases, most issues can be solved by simply ringing a neighbor’s doorbell and expressing one’s concerns about excessive noise. However, as Camacho stated, the lack of accountability this new rule endorses discourages people from attempting to dissolve trivial problems on their own, and creates a larger platform for excessive complaining.
By facilitating the process of filing a noise complaint, many dog owners may feel pressured to either give up their dogs, or keep them indoors. Camacho states that, “Of the reasons people give up dogs, one of the main reasons is they get cited by the city. Instead of paying the citation or dealing with the issue, they’re quick to give up the dog.” This means that these abandoned dogs will often end up in shelters.
When a dog’s excessive barking is a behavioral issue, measures such as obedience training are often needed. Under the rules of the new ordinance, training becomes a necessary, but difficult, task. Many owners are unable to train their dogs themselves, which only leaves them with the option to pay for professional training, which isn’t cheap. According to Newsmax, dog obedience training “could cost more than $100 an hour” for “dogs with behavior problems,” and undoubtedly it will take multiple sessions over an extended period of time to train a rowdy dog properly.
The other alternative is to keep a dog indoors, but this option has its own drawbacks as well. When dogs that are used to being outside are suddenly kept indoors for extended periods of time, their health deteriorates from the accumulated stress caused by confinement. According to Jacksonville Veterinary center, when dogs become stressed, they begin to display aggressive and antisocial behavior, sluggishness and a decreased appetite.
While dog barking can be a public nuisance, and definitely needs to be given attention, this new ordinance will not solve the issue. Even if the old ordinance intimidated people from filing a noise complaint, it served an integral purpose in ensuring that complaints that were filed were warranted. However, with this new ordinance being unable to promise the same thing, it only creates large-scale issues for dogs and dog owners. Because of Riverside’s new decision, dog owners may have to bear a greater financial burden, and dogs could become susceptible to stress. It would be more effective to keep the old ordinance rather than strip the accountability of complaint filers altogether.