Nuisance barking regulations took effect March 1

Nuisance barking regulations took effect March 1

On Dec. 13, 2016, the Board of County Commissioners approved new regulations governing animal licensing, treatment and regulation, including provisions that define, prohibit, and establish penalties for nuisance barking in unincorporated areas of La Plata County.

The nuisance barking provisions took effect on March 1.


Definitions
The revised code articulates that barking, howling, yelping or whining noises that last for a continuous 20 minutes are a per se nuisance under the code – meaning that 20 or more minutes of continuous barking is a nuisance by definition.

Additionally, such noises lasting for less than 20 minutes also constitute nuisance barking if such noises disturb the peace of a reasonable person.

Penalties
The code establishes a multi-tiered penalty protocol as follows:

  1. First complaint: After Animal Control receives a written complaint from one neighbor attesting to the nuisance barking, officers may issue a warning notice The animal's owner will then have 10 days to correct the problem before a citation or summons and complaint can be issued.

  2. First offense: If the issue is not resolved after 10 days and within six months of the issuance of a warning, an Animal Control officer may issue a $50 citation for subsequent nuisance barking, provided that one neighbor or complainant signs a written statement attesting to the noise.

  3. Second offense: A second or subsequent offense is charged within six months of the first citation or summons, Animal Control may issue a citation or summons may be issued without a preceding warning notice. Second offense citations are $100.

  4. Third & subsequent offenses: Third and subsequent offenses will carry a $250 citation and require a court appearance where additional penalties may be levied.


Defenses & Exemptions

There are several defenses and exemptions to the county’s nuisance barking provisions, including:

  • Dogs that are provoked to nuisance barking have a defense

  • Working dogs engaged in activities defined by the code are exempt

  • Veterinary hospitals and licensed facilities are exempt

  • Guard dogs are not exempt from nuisance barking provisions

Questions
For any questions about nuisance barking please contact Megan Graham at (970) 382-6265.

To report a suspected violation beginning March 1, please contact Animal Control at (970) 259-2847 or Central Dispatch at (970) 385-2900.