7th May 2014
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Undeserved council complaints
Author: Jo Lamble
Undeserved council complaints

Q. Harry
I'm at a loss as to what to do. Someone in my street hates my dog. We've had so many complaints to the council about him that it is not funny. I am home almost 24/7 so I know my dog’s behaviour pretty well. We have complied with every council request so far even when we haven’t agreed with it, so I'm far from an irresponsible dog owner. We have built a new fence, he sleeps indoors with us and we are home most of the day – often when we go out he goes with us. We have told the council it can’t be him barking, but it doesn’t seem to care. We are not sure what more we can do. If it really is just a malicious complainer, does the council ever take this into consideration?

A. When it comes to dog ownership, the rules seem totally inconsistent. I have heard of so many dangerous dogs being allowed to run free and fabulous dogs being complained about for no apparent reason. If your dog’s behaviour is as you say it is, there should be no cause for complaint. I’d advise you to try to hold your head high knowing that your furry friend is innocent of the charges. It should be very hard to prove the legitimacy of the complaints.

To cope with the idea of someone hating your dog, try to tap into your empathy stores. Maybe this person has a phobic fear of dogs or is simply not a fan of dogs. Perhaps they are a habitual complainer and the council is just paying them lip service when they inform you of the complaint. Feeling empathy for someone who may be terribly fearful or generally unhappy in life stops you from taking his or her protests so personally.

Jo Lamble
www.jolamble.com.au





    COMMENTS

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    Aloysius
    16th May 2014
    11:15am
    I have the same problem. My dog only barks if the property is threatened but the Gold Coast Council advised that a complainant had written to it about my dog. I wrote a full response with proof that it wasn't my dog but chose not to dob in my neighbour's dog (the real culprit). The Council responded by ignoring my points and delivering a lecture and a threat of prosecution. I am ignoring the Council.
    nightie
    17th Jun 2014
    1:08pm
    my dog barks when cats are fighting in the street at 2am 3am 4am etc.......
    my solution is to have him inside despite the fact that it is against council regulations that cats are outside when it becomes dark. my dog still growls and barks because of the cats fighting...................anyone got a peaceful solution?
    nightie
    17th Jun 2014
    1:08pm
    my dog barks when cats are fighting in the street at 2am 3am 4am etc.......
    my solution is to have him inside despite the fact that it is against council regulations that cats are outside when it becomes dark. my dog still growls and barks because of the cats fighting...................anyone got a peaceful solution?
    nightie
    17th Jun 2014
    1:08pm
    my dog barks when cats are fighting in the street at 2am 3am 4am etc.......
    my solution is to have him inside despite the fact that it is against council regulations that cats are outside when it becomes dark. my dog still growls and barks because of the cats fighting...................anyone got a peaceful solution?
    Nightshade
    16th May 2014
    11:28am
    We has someone who deliberately lured & caught cats & presented them as strays & got rid of them from our neighborhood -
    My mothers neighbor on the corner put out poison for the cays in the street.
    My friend Sue who lived opposite the Albert Park - park had he cat poisoned also. Her cat was her baby.
    I had 2 dogs Minnie & Jack - someone came into my front veranda, opened the side gate to the back yard & took Jack while I was at work.
    The people next door would steal nice looking dogs & sell them on.
    Nightshade
    16th May 2014
    11:39am
    Maybe the RSPCA can give you a hint as to how the deal with the council.
    Simon was this older gentleman who has Sally, a big, white, fluffy dog. She was his best girl & she was so pampered.
    One night as Simon was walking Sally - who would always walk several meters behind him sniffing everything in sight - Simon turned the corner - when sally did not come around the corner Simon went to see what was keeping her - she had vanished. One of the residence who had it in for Simon had swiped her, removed her ID COLLAR & delivered her to the council the next morning as lost.
    Simon was beside himself & the tears - finally he found her late the next afternoon. The Council Pound were reluctant to help him ?????????????????
    CindyLou
    16th May 2014
    9:35pm
    1. Microchip your pets, should be done when vacinated, desexed at vets
    2. If 'simon's' dig was on a lead it could not have been swiped.
    Bookworm
    16th May 2014
    11:44am
    I sympathise with dog owners who may get undeserved complaints, but spare a thought for neighbours who have to put up with barking, yapping dogs all day long. My next door neighbour has a lapdog which is totally neurotic, barking at its' own shadow, going berserk when people walk by etc. It does our heads in!! This noise pollution is bad for our nerves, and I blame the owners for never disciplining the dog from an early age. Yes, we have spoken to them, but their "baby" can do no wrong in their eyes. A complaint to Council will only cause further bad feeling, and the dog will continue to bark anyway. Very selfish, uncaring and irresponsible.
    Happy cyclist
    16th May 2014
    11:45am
    It seems to me that dog owners never think their dog barks yet the neighbourhoods are full of barking dogs. I never ever get a good night's sleep thanks to the neighbours' dogs but they all deny that any of them bark. I haven't bothered going to the council because other neighbours have told me they have done so and found it to be a waste of time. So what is the solution? A little more honesty from the dog owners for a start maybe. I am constantly reading things about how we all should be getting a good nights' sleep but neighbours' dogs prevent me and thousands of others from doing so yet their owners must be very sound sleepers because they seem untroubled. I wonder if Harry falls into this category?
    Eclair
    16th May 2014
    12:33pm
    Keep a diary showing where you and the dog are at all times. After the next complaint ask Council for specific times when your dog was supposed to have been barking. You will either receive a nasty surprise and find your darling is very vocal when left alone or you will have in your hand the evidence that you were home at the time and the dog was inside and/or supervised.
    Although you might not want to dob in your neighbour, one barking dog can have nasty consequences. Last week in a nearby town poison baits were thrown into all backyards because one barking dog had angered a local creep. The vet was flat out pumping stomachs but even so a lot of beautiful and innocent fur babies died.
    fish head
    16th May 2014
    1:23pm
    Harry, Eclair has the right of it. Keep a detailed diary WITH times of barking and where you are at that moment. Then you have a viable right of reply and proof. Unfortunately there are people who want to be in control of everybody's life and this is one of the bullying tactics they use.I suffered a neighbour who had 5 children under 16, was working fulltime and studying nights to complete an engineering degree. Yes, he was under stress and each year, just before Finals I would get a knock on the door from an RSPCA Inspector investigating a complaint against my treatment of my dog. Names were never mentioned so I would walk the Inspector out to where my dog was kept while I was at work and explain in detail how my system worked. Never in three visits was I cautioned that I was doing anything wrong. In fact, on the third visit I had a very embarrassed Inspector who had recognized my address from a previous visit, knew the background and apologized explaining that a complaint had been lodged so he had to followup which I found perfectly reasonable. What I never revealed to him was that the neighbour's dog waiting until everyone went out each day, scaled his fence and roamed the neighbourhood all day returning just before the children got back from school. He was looking for company. Mine stayed safely on a long running line in the back yard until I got home.
    Keep your records, face your visitors calmly and explain the situation. The Inspectors don't have the last say but most like animals or they couldn't do their job and they DO recognize vexatious complaints. It's infuriating to be harrasses like this but not all animal owners are responsible and some people have very small minds.
    CindyLou
    16th May 2014
    9:41pm
    Why didnt you alert your neighbor that his dog was getting out each day, even a note in the letterbox would have been neighborly.
    Also, maybe your neighbour didn't make the complaints...can't just assume.
    biddi
    16th May 2014
    2:55pm
    Perhaps you can change your negative views of dogs (those applicable) to something
    positive in that you have dogs alerting you to criminals and it doesn't cost you a dime.
    Harry, get the complainant to record the barking to prove it isn't your dog.
    I very much appreciate neighbours' animals. Some people even complain about
    birds chattering!!! Jeez.
    Bookworm
    16th May 2014
    6:56pm
    Um, Biddi, have you ever heard about the boy crying wolf? If a bloody dog barks ALL DAY AND NIGHT, you would not be thinking that a criminal is entering their home. You would just want the mongrel to shut up!
    muckey
    16th May 2014
    3:16pm
    Have you actually spoken to your neighbours and asked if the dog is bothering them?
    It surprises me how so few people actually communicate with their neighbours before lodging a complaint.
    Different though, if you know from previous experience if a neighbour is unreasonable or feral. (We have one of those, sigh. Long story.)
    'Chelle03
    16th May 2014
    4:20pm
    Yes Harry - Eclair has it right. Keep a detailed diary and I would also go and get a surveillance camera (they are quite cheap from Dick Smith's) and when your dog is at home use it to prove that he is not the one barking. If someone does make a complaint about a dog barking continuously they have to provide proof for the council to take action. It has to be documented and the barking has to be continual for a certain amount of time (can't remember what that is) - so if you can diarise what your dog does and where it is then they will need to prove that it is your dog. You on the other hand can prove it is NOT :)
    Pardelope
    16th May 2014
    5:46pm
    Many owners do not realise (or believe) that when they are away, the dog becomes a nuisance. If you are the victim of a noisy dog, it is a good idea to keep diary - along with recordings of the barking. If you have a video or smart phone which has a microphone, use that to walk around your property - so that a viewer can see that the noise is loudest when in a certain area. Discuss it with your neighbours (if you think this is a safe thing to do). If all else fails, go to the Council with your evidence and ask them to do a decibel test on your property. (the same with loud vehicles, repetitive parties, loud music).

    If you receive complaints about your dog making noise, do your own investigation. If your dog is barking, it is probably due to "separation anxiety". You need to retrain it by leaving for a very short period (starting at a few seconds), then return. Do not make a fuss of the dog when you leave - or come back. Repeat this, gradually making the time away longer and longer over a period of weeks. Give it a nice, large, juicy bone to keep it occupied.

    If you know the dog annoys neighbours (however over sensitive you think they are) lock the dog in a small, darkened indoor space e.g. a laundry. Use soft objects such as towels or blankets to deaden any sound. Set up a recording device to test if your actions have been successful. You must ensure that the animal cannot be injured, baited et,

    Some people are sick, dying, sensitive to noise, shift workers, or have young children trying to sleep. If people feel helpless and harassed by noise, they are likely to resort to stealing, killing, or otherwise harming your pet - and others who may not be creating a nuisance. Protect you pet by taking whatever safe and humane action is necessary.

    Some people just hate dogs/cats/birds/wildlife/neighbours/the world in general. Sometimes there is a reason e.g. a bad experience as a child - or being brainwashed by adults - but living on smaller properties (more noise) is no excuse for cruelty to animals or harassment of neighbours.

    Unfortunately, many Councils are pretty useless when it comes to neighbourhood disputes, so you have to get EVIDENCE to support the facts. This applies if you are being falsely accused, are the complainant, or are the owner of the noisy animal. It could end up in court. Security cameras are also a great deterrent if you think someone is trespassing or interfering with your property/animals.
    Pass the Ductape
    16th May 2014
    5:59pm
    Crikey Pardelope - why would anyone bother owning a dog if this what it takes to keep on good terms with your neighbour. Shooting the bloody thing and wearing the consequences would possibly be unpalatable, but a far quicker solution to the problem. As relations with the neighbours are probably had it anyway - why worry!
    Pardelope
    16th May 2014
    7:51pm
    I always ask surrounding neighbours to let me know if there is a problem with anything e.g. trees, dogs, fences, chooks etc etc
    Pardelope
    16th May 2014
    7:54pm
    Harry could get statements from other neighbours - to say that his dog is not making a noise or bothering them.

    This should help convince the Council or Court that the person complaining is not reasonable or has a vendetta going.
    Poppysmum
    16th May 2014
    6:32pm
    I don't know if it applies to all Councils, but in South Australia, if you complain about a dog barking, you are given a diary to document the times. If you keep your diary, and the inconvenience is worth it, and their diary disagrees with yours - then it is someone else's dpg creating the problem!
    Blossom
    16th May 2014
    9:08pm
    I know of one case in SA. There was a complaint by a neighbour. Unknown to the neighbour we were home that day and the dog was asleep next to the chair I was sitting on under the verandah when the neighbour started banging on the fence. Of course the dog woke up and barked. The Council guy told us we had to prove that the neighbour was banging on the fence---to record the noise. We can't sit out there day and night with a recorder to catch the noise that is just enough to disturb our dog.

    Friends of ours had 2 small dogs (jack russell terriers) that were outside part of the time (there is a doggy door). The carport has high gates ( 8 ft. high) There is a piece of timber and bricks stacked on top of each at the back of of the gate -facing the back yard. There is bricks in front of the gates. Somebody let them out, (they would have had to move the bricks from the gates to be able to open them) and stirred them up so much that they started fighting then left. They wouldn't been able to get hold of them without being bitten. You never step in between to fighting dogs. Put a hose on them. Those dogs always slept together in the same large basket. Somebody then reported the matter to the council who took them to court. They had no intention of surrendering their dogs but it cost them a lot of money to be allowed to keep them. He told some neighbours what had happened as they had dogs too and knew that they wouldn't want them let out. One of the neighbours, of his own accord, went to court and stated how the gates were always blocked by bricks - how they had always been stacked and that there was no way the little dogs could have escaped through bricks, a thick piece of timber and solid concrete. Even if they went away and took the dogs with them the bricks etc. were still left holding the gates. They had no intention of letting somebody getting into their backyard and breaking into the house unseen or into the garage via the side door.
    Blossom
    16th May 2014
    9:08pm
    I know of one case in SA. There was a complaint by a neighbour. Unknown to the neighbour we were home that day and the dog was asleep next to the chair I was sitting on under the verandah when the neighbour started banging on the fence. Of course the dog woke up and barked. The Council guy told us we had to prove that the neighbour was banging on the fence---to record the noise. We can't sit out there day and night with a recorder to catch the noise that is just enough to disturb our dog.

    Friends of ours had 2 small dogs (jack russell terriers) that were outside part of the time (there is a doggy door). The carport has high gates ( 8 ft. high) There is a piece of timber and bricks stacked on top of each at the back of of the gate -facing the back yard. There is bricks in front of the gates. Somebody let them out, (they would have had to move the bricks from the gates to be able to open them) and stirred them up so much that they started fighting then left. They wouldn't been able to get hold of them without being bitten. You never step in between to fighting dogs. Put a hose on them. Those dogs always slept together in the same large basket. Somebody then reported the matter to the council who took them to court. They had no intention of surrendering their dogs but it cost them a lot of money to be allowed to keep them. He told some neighbours what had happened as they had dogs too and knew that they wouldn't want them let out. One of the neighbours, of his own accord, went to court and stated how the gates were always blocked by bricks - how they had always been stacked and that there was no way the little dogs could have escaped through bricks, a thick piece of timber and solid concrete. Even if they went away and took the dogs with them the bricks etc. were still left holding the gates. They had no intention of letting somebody getting into their backyard and breaking into the house unseen or into the garage via the side door.
    CindyLou
    16th May 2014
    9:57pm
    I love pets, dogs, cats, birds, fish, cooks etc but I don't like the noise of a yapping dog and I would hate to have a screaching parrot within earshot.
    The reality is that dogs do bark and I imagine living in close proximity to others means that the dogs hear lots of noises etc that bother them.
    A barking dog would drive me crazy and I do have sympathy for people who suffer with this problem 24/7.
    greygeek
    16th May 2014
    10:16pm
    A few years ago, whilst out in the back yard I could hear the awful, distressing "howling" of a dog! It was constant and was the same the next day. I sought advice from the RSPCA and the local Council, neither of whom could assist as I did not know the "exact" location! So I went searching and located the home at which the dog lived. It was behind large gates and I think it was "separation anxiety". I wrote a note to the householder, beginning with "Dear Fellow Dog Lover" setting out how sad it was to hear the constant howling for hours and that perhaps, some toys, shelter and a imovable water bowl may assist. I also explained I had no wish to involve authorities and signed it "fellow dog lover" The dog is still with the owner at that home and has not cried and cried since that day. I do wonder how the neighbours were able to listen to the pitiful sounds and apparently "do nothing" I live in the next street!
    bushsurveyor
    23rd Feb 2016
    3:31pm
    Unfortunately, I find this article to be a beat up. For a start, what is 1100 people as a percentage of the whole, the answer minute. Secondly, although I have worked hard all my life, and paid my taxes, and luckily , and still working at 60. At my age now, in their place, there are jobs I could not do. I wouldn't be considered as having a disability, but couldn't walk far enough for a lot of jobs, etc. No where in this article was age, job type, or any other circumstance mentioned. Very poor journalism.


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