Animal services officers no longer have to hear a dog barking for 15 consecutive minutes before it’s considered a nuisance.

There is relief in sight for residents who can’t escape that constant barking of a neighborhood dog.

The Colony City Council on Tuesday approved an ordinance amendment that is designed to make it easier for animal services officers to address the issue of repeated calls about excessively barking dogs.

The current ordinance requires that the responding officer must observe the dog barking for 15 consecutive minutes.

“What we’re finding is that a lot of times that just doesn’t happen,” said Joe Perez, director of community relations and programming. “So the complainants are upset, and the officers feel like they can’t do anything either.”

The amendment removes both the 15-minute requirement.

“The officer that receives a complaint about a barking dog could show up to the property and then make an assessment on whether it is disturbing or continuing to disturb a person of normal sensibilities,” Perez said.

The new ordinance states, “no person may keep an animal that makes frequent or long, continued noise that is disturbing to a person of normal sensibilities."

City Attorney Jeff Moore said that doesn’t mean the dog in violation would be taken away, but rather the dog owner could be fined up to $500 per incident.

“Each case will be different and it will come down to the evidence presented to the judge at municipal court,” Moore said.

“At the end of the day you have to prove the barking was unreasonable and that the person wasn’t overly sensitive,” he said.

Council members supported the change.

“What we had before was unenforceable,” Mayor Pro Tem David Terre said. “There’s no way you could go out and wait for a dog to bark for 15 minutes. It would stop after a minute or two, but then it would start again. It was something we couldn’t enforce. But this has clarity now, and judgment can come into play.”

The ordinance amendment also removes the 350-foot requirement for a neighbor to be located near the barking dog before it is considered a nuisance.

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