City leaders in Akron, Ohio, are proposing jail time for pet owners who let their dogs bark too much.
What is the proposal?
An Akron City Council safety committee this week heard a recommendation by Councilman Russ Neal to increase fines and add as much as a month of jail time for the offense, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.
“For those residents who are held hostage by dog owners who let them bark and bark and bark, I’d like to send a message that we’re serious about this,” Neal told the news outlet.
Neal’s proposal would also boost the fine for excessive barking – considered a minor misdemeanor – from $100 to $250.
What are people saying?
Pet owner Megan Carpenter told WEWS-TV she has a blind mother who relies on her dogs to serve as a warning system.
"That's something she relies on to let her know something might be up," she said.
“I think it’s crazy,” Carpenter added. “I think dogs are meant to bark. That’s their natural instinct. That’s what they do. So, to be fined or have to go to jail because my dog is doing what it’s bred and made to do is crazy to me.”
Under the plan, the punishment for excessive barking would be equal to what it is for strays or dogs who are not vaccinated.
Safety Committee Chair Donnie Kammer took it a step further. He said the fine should be as high has $600.
“We need to put a big bite into this,” said Kammer, who called the $100 fine a waste of everyone’s time.
During discussion, it was suggested that city officials are receiving conflicting information about how to handle barking dogs and that is passed along to citizens.
One problem is that a person, not a video or audio recording, must be the source of the complaint, City Prosecutor Gert Wilms said.
“That is an ongoing issue,” Wilms stated in the Akron Journal Beacon report.
Can the city haul off the dogs?
Councilman Bruce Kilby asked if the city could haul off dogs that are barking too much. Wilms said that is not possible, only if an animal attacks someone or is willingly relinquished by its owner.
In the Akron Beacon Journal report, John Valle, the director of Neighborhood Assistance, explained how complaints are investigated:
“When we get a complaint in the 311 call center for a barking dog, our wardens go out and investigate every complaint,” Valle said. “Obviously when they drive by and hear nothing, they log the address. If they know they’re in an area near an address with a lot of complaints, they’ll go back and reinspect these properties."