Continued Neighbor Drama - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-29-2015, 12:45 AM Thread Starter
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Continued Neighbor Drama

I am going to post this, even though I am ashamed I allowed my neighbors to even get this video of my dogs barking, because I have been so careful. I can only say I was Skyping with my band at the time of the barking, playing bass. And that this has never happened before or since, and even then this is just ten seconds over the five minute limit. And that the neighbors were clearly working hard to provoke my dogs to get this video.

But it might be useful to discuss. I had a hearing today, around this video:

Here are my notes:

It was just me, A (my partner), Animal Control officer (AC), a trainee, and the hearing officer in the room. We sat around a conference table and a recorder was running. We were sworn in, with R, the neighbor over the phone (is that even legal?).

First Animal Control presented their side which was quite cut and dry. He read the code and then said how he got the video and issued the citation per normal Animal Control practices. Then the hearing officer asked the neighbor a few questions, about how much my dogs barked and things like that, and then I got to ask them questions.

I asked each of them to tell me how long the video showed my dogs barking, start to finish, first to last bark. AC said five minutes and 42 seconds, R said five minutes and 44 seconds. I also asked R if he brought his dog out on the deck about a minute into the video. He said no. I said I would provide evidence that contradicted both R's and AC's statements.

Then I got my chance to talk. I went through the video submitted by the neighbor with my written annotations. The hearing officer had already noted previously during AC presentation that my dogs were quiet for almost a minute and then R went out the door to stir them up. I pointed out that he brought Nellie (his dog) out with him because he wanted to cause barking, and showed video proof of his dog's tail in the frame when she was on the deck with him. We watched that tail like six times. AC said that was a hand (very rudely). We said, no, that is way too low to be a hand and it looks and moves like a tail. The hearing officer watched closely and I think she agreed it was a tail, because she asked if R had a husky, but she did not say anything further.

The next point of contention was what R says about four minutes into the video. I hear "OK, too quiet". We listened a few times and could certainly hear "OK, too...." but AC belligerently kept saying that he was not saying "OK, too quiet" and that we could not prove that. The hearing officer didn't say much but did listen a few times to that segment.

The final minutes of the video I went over showed that I started bringing my dogs in about a minute and a half before five minutes were up- and I pointed out that only one dog was left in the yard at five minutes and that my bass playing stopped at 3:37 in the video, indicating I had stopped playing so I could bring the dogs in.

My main conclusion at the end was that the video only shows 5 minutes, 10 seconds of barking start to finish. The hearing officer paid close attention to that.

There was some issue with the video. We started watching the video and annotations on YouTube but then AC said that I must have manipulated the YouTube video so I said, sure, let's watch the original disc and I'll verbally go over the annotations. Which we did. AC later tried to argue that the video we watched at that time was manipulated but gave up when the hearing officer said we had watched the original video file and AC had no argument (like I said, not the brightest bulb). Then AC tried to argue that I had no right to upload the video to YouTube. I said that if he had a real issue there he could certainly bring it up with the police. I've looked into copyright laws, and I know I never signed anything saying I would keep that video private, and I obtained the video legally.

That was pretty much it for my case. In cross-examination AC said I made assumptions in my written annotations in the video that I couldn't support with evidence. I conceded that point, but it did not affect my main case. He went through my written annotations trying to pick holes in them- like saying that wasn't Nellie's tail and that R didn't say "OK, too quiet" but he was really stretching. AC was pretty blatantly trying to save face when he said he listened to the video with earphones and heard a bark at 5:40 (or thought he did). That was just a lie. There is no bark or anything even close. R had no explanation for claiming the barking lasted 5 minutes and 44 seconds when it clearly didn't.

AC then argued that 10 seconds over was still in violation. Then he was done and Andrew got a chance to speak.

Andrew mainly addressed a reasonable expectation of accuracy under Title 17. He clapped and then asked the hearing officer to tell him how many seconds had passed since the clap. He went on to argue that Title 17 should be interpreted to the minute, not the second, based on how the code is written (five minutes, not the equivalent number of seconds and not five minutes and zero seconds). He said we clearly start bringing in the dogs when they continue barking, and are making every effort to comply with the code. And that citing someone for 10 seconds over is well outside the intention of the code and excessive. It would be like a speeding ticket for going less than a mile over the speed limit.

We also went into the procedural issues behind a "Notice to Comply" because the code says you need to receive a Notice to Comply prior to a Notice of Violation, and that a Notice to Comply must include verification. We had a Notice to Comply way back in November, 2014. AC (not the smartest bulb) said that general practice is no verification, just a phone call complaint is enough, but then wiffle-waffled back and forth. He said we should have contested the Notice to Comply. I said there was no means to do so, and no explanation of how to do so on the Notice to Comply. AC muttered something, and then got confused and realized he was going nowhere. I think he started realizing that the AC had actually failed to follow the code and that we did in fact have a procedural issue.

To be clear, you do not get a Notice of Violation without a Notice to Comply, first. If the Notice to Comply can be based on just a phone call complaint from a neighbor, that is not adequate verification per the Code.

We had some back and forth with R and said we bring in the dogs every time they are barking- if we see the neighbors in the yard we bring them in right away. We understand the neighbors have every right to use their yard, or deck.

But it is unreasonable to cite someone for barking just 10 seconds over the limit. I asked AC how many times they'd issued a citation for 10 seconds over the five minute mark and he said "I have no idea". I said, "clearly, you have an idea, at least of how many barking dog violations you have issued this year," he said, "no idea". Obviously refusing to answer the question, but that isn't real relevant.

Final words from me were to ask the hearing officer to carefully watch the video with my annotations. That I understood my annotations may be colored with emotion, but that all the facts and times are correct. She seemed to listen to that.

Andrew said again that the expectation for accuracy is to the minute, not the second. And that we were clearly working to comply with the regulation.

Finally, after two and a half hours, it was over.
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-29-2015, 01:03 AM
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The dogs very clearly were not barking for 5 minutes continuously. There were plenty of 30-40 second breaks in there.

But I gotta say, they start every dang time your neighbor walks outside. And it rings and echoes. I would be very annoyed as well.

I did not see a dog tail.

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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-29-2015, 01:23 AM
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does it really matter if it's 10 seconds over or under? it's obviously not the first incident and living next door to a similar problem, it's annoying as **** and it upsets me that it's come down to splitting hairs about time..... that video took 5 minutes of your neighbors time, their, personal, valuable, time! it doesn't matter if they're on their deck or if they brought their dog onto the deck - neither action is unusual or taunting.

like it said, if it happened once or twice before - I doubt someone would bother going to court over it..... it's a problem and has been a problem and that's not right, at all. please, just take responsibility for whatever comes.

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Last edited by Fodder; 09-29-2015 at 01:29 AM.
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-29-2015, 01:41 AM
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I obviously I am not privy to the history, so much of this post is based of conjecture. My assumptions is, this happens fairly regularly if it has escalated to the point you are going to court.

I gotta say, if every time I went out on my deck dogs started barking at me I would be supremely annoyed. Revving motorcycles and continuously barking dogs (not reasonable alert barking, but continuous, intermittent, annoying barking) really bothers me. If this happens regularly I'd be complaining to local law enforcement as well.

I did see the husky dog in the background in that one clip, but I agree with the neighbor bringing the dog out if that is what he did. If that aggravates your dogs to bark, and he is regularly out on the deck with his dog (as is his right on his property) then it stands to reason he show that on the video. Your dogs shouldn't be barking at his dog. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I saw the husky in another YouTube clip on the same channel, mellow and chilling on the porch while another dog barked at it a few times? The neighbor has a right to let his own dog in the back yard without having to listen to barking.

Even if you do try to be responsible and bring them in, the real training issue at hand that isn't being addressed is that they should not be barking at normal, routine events like your night hanging out with his dog on his porch. And if you are both going to court, it sounds like that management strategy is not working.

You both have rights to use your back yard. Your dogs have a right to be there, he has a right to be on his porch. But if the dogs truly are doing this regularly then I don't think they should be allowed in the yard unsupervised until the behavior can be modified.

No, they did not bark for 5 continuous minutes. But I personally find it MORE annoying when every few minutes there is peace and I think the dogs have been brought in only to have it start up again. Very frustrating to have to listen to.

All of that said, the neighbor must be considerate as well. If he is performing specific behaviors that can be easily modified to prevent barking (not just sitting going out onto the porch) then reasonable accommodations should be made by both parties. Is his dog part of the problem as well? Always starts barking when it sees your dogs? Or do your dogs engage first?

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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-29-2015, 02:00 AM
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My neighbors GSD barks all the time. I was getting massively annoyed, to the point where I wanted to call AC. I took a minute, calmed down, walked over and told them very bluntly that their dog was driving me ****ing nuts, and if it would be possible to meet him. Walked out back, let him smell me, hear me, and played with him for a bit. Learned his name, he learned my voice. Now when he starts barking, I yell "Rocky, enough" and he stops instantly. Win win for myself and my neighbor. They had just learned to tune him out (kinda like I do with my human kids) so they didn't notice. But they were more than happy to allow me in, and to interact with Rocky, and yell at him when he is driving me bonkers.

If people could just learn to be more civil, and see it from both points of view, courts wouldn't be needed for something so trivial. It's not a hard fix.

ETA: When I say yell, I just mean shouting over the fence. I'm not yelling at their dog in a rude way

Last edited by jschrest; 09-29-2015 at 02:04 AM.
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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-29-2015, 02:14 AM
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I live in a residential neighborhood. I do not tolerate my dogs barking at neighbors, their activities, or their dogs. I do not permit barking because another neighborhood dog barked.
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-29-2015, 02:40 AM
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My neighbors on the right of me, I LOVE them, I know their little dog, she knows me. When she's outside (which is never alone) and she barks at me I'll say "Hey Ollie! What's up?" Then she'll come over to the gate to say hi. The issue I have is when she's INSIDE their house. She sits in the window that looks over our yard and will bark at opossums in my yard, people walking by the houses, the mailman, everything.

My dogs in their yard with no outside influence do the following:
Cyclone barks at squirrels. Nothing else.
Gunther barks at people going by. Normally I have the neighbors dog as a warning system so I get him under control and re-focused before they come by. Other times I can't and it lasts a few seconds before I get him in the house.

My only issue ever is when my dogs are inside, their dog is inside, all windows are open. She barks, it alerts Gunther to something outside and he will run around the house barking. My neighbors have mentioned this and do you know what I told them? It is NOT their responsibility to keep my dog from barking. Yes their dog may aggravate my dog into barking but it is my responsibility to keep him from doing so.

Now my neighbors on the left of me are horrible. Their dog doesn't bark much, no issues with that dog. But their child will stand at the fence and stare at my dogs or try and get Cyclone to come to her. I've heard both the child and the father bark back at Gunther. They are aggravating as can be. I simply bring the boys in and tell them in a loud enough to be heard voice, don't go near that fence.

I will also say that Cyclone is allowed outside alone simply because both Gunther and I keep an eye on him through the windows. Gunther is NEVER outside alone. I can't imagine putting my dog outside alone for 5 minutes, 10 seconds, 42 seconds, 44 seconds, whatever. If playing bass in your home is something your dog can't handle maybe having them outside isn't an option anymore. Respectfully, if your playing is so loud you can't even hear what your dog is doing, why would your dog be outside alone?

Hail Gunther 7-2-2013

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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-29-2015, 07:25 AM
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I don't get it. I've always expected the neighborhood dogs to bark when they see another dog near their property. And some dogs bark for a long time. Getting agitated over it only makes things worse. Five minutes seems really short. One county I was in listed the time limit to nuisance barking to 15 minutes.

It looks like you will have to do more sitting outside with your dog trying to teach him that you want him quiet.
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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-29-2015, 08:07 AM
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I see nothing wrong with the video. My dogs sound like that when they are playing, louder in fact. I watched the video first then read everything. What was the dog barking at when it was on the fence facing the house in the very beginning? I did see them open the door and let their dog out--the tail was as clear as can be. At one point and I still don't know but I do think their dog was barking and that brought one of the dogs closer but I think for the most part I thought the dogs ignored them pretty well.

Dogs barking doesn't bother me and laws are usually continued barking for 15minutes, nothing like this video. Dogs do bark. They bark at the squirrels, they bark when they play and maybe even at annoying people that are staring at them.

All I have to say is that I am glad I don't have neighbors like this one. I hope that things get resolved. I don't t feel this is an issue and this wouldn't bother me as your neighbor.

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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-29-2015, 08:26 AM
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I wanted to add so that people don't get the wrong idea, my dogs don't bark at things while they are in the yard, but again they are very vocal when playing. Much more vocal then this video. I do not allow them to play in the morning or evening when people might be sleeping, but during the day they play away. It would be no different then if I had them in the house with the windows open--the neighbors could still hear them.

This particular neighbor seems to think they should never bark and seems to have made it so they did for video sake.

For anyone that wants to hear nuisance barking, they can listen to the lab down the street from me bark continually all night long every night because he wants to be in the house.

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