COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE
Animal Noise Ordinance Update
Report on barking dog complaints since adoption of animal noise ordinance.
Messrs: Tucker, Elliott, Davis, Miller, Allen, and Mainzer
LEGAL REVIEW: Yes
June 3, 2009
ACTION: INFORMATION: X
On June 11, 2008, the Board amended Chapter 4, Animals and Fowl, of the County Code by adding Article VI, Animal Noise. At that time, the Board requested that staff provide a twelve month report on the impact of the ordinance.
Goal 1. Enhance the Quality of Life for all Albemarle County Residents.
Goal 2. Effectively Manage the County’s Growth and Development.
Between June 11, 2008 and April 30, 2009, forty-seven (47) barking dog noise complaints were reported to the Police Department. Of these complaints, sixteen (16) were reported in 2008 while thirty one (31) have been submitted thusfar in 2009. The number of barking dog complaints received in 2007 totaled seventy-one (71) and in 2006 fifty-four (54) were filed.
Since adoption of this ordinance, four written Incident Based Reports have been completed. The majority of citizen complaints are resolved by Animal Control Officers (ACOs) providing information to citizens on the provisions of the animal noise ordinance. Most are handled by phone as an information call for service. Very few citizen complaints have required an on-site visit by an ACO or Police Officer. An updated brochure titled “Do You Have a Barking Dog Problem?” (Attachment A) was prepared after the adoption of the animal noise ordinance. This brochure is regularly provided to citizens by ACOs.
Two cases have been adjudicated through the Albemarle County General District Court in the past 12 months. One of these cases was an officer initiated arrest in which a summons was issued to a dog owner for a violation observed by the officer. This involved a dog that was barking excessively in a parked and unattended vehicle in an apartment community. The dog owner subsequently pleaded guilty and paid a $30.00 fine plus $71.00 in court costs. The second case involved a private citizen who obtained a summons from the magistrate. This case was successfully diverted to mediation by the General District Court.
According to the ACOs, most citizens are aware that there is an animal noise ordinance that addresses barking dogs; however, are generally not familiar with the provisions of the ordinance. Some complainants are unwilling to go through the required steps and are also unwilling to obtain a summons, even with assistance from an ACO. There has also been some frustration expressed by complainants in regard to the five acre exclusion for property zoned Rural Areas where barking dog owners are keeping their dogs on or near the property line of the complainant, but because the dog is located on more than five acres of property in the Rural Areas, the noise is exempt under the ordinance.
There has been no significant increase in the workload of the Animal Control Officers or Police Officers since adoption of the animal noise ordinance.
Staff supports the continuation of an animal noise ordinance. However, staff recommends that the Board evaluate the five acre Rural Areas exemption during the update of Chapter 4, Animals and Fowl.
A – “Do You Have a Barking Dog Problem?” Brochure
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