Barking dogs spark pleas for ordinance change

Residents in a Cashiers subdivision weary of incessant dog barking called on county commissioners this week to help them find some peace and quiet.

“For the past six years, our community has had to deal with a kennel of dogs that bark day and night,” Bill Armgard said. “It’s just maddening. It is stressful 24 hours a day.”

Armgard, speaking on behalf of residents in Red Fox Ridge in the Norton community, asked commissioners to please amend the county’s noise ordinance to muzzle barking dogs.

Armgard was armed with a recording of the dogs’ barking to share with commissioners. He opted not to play it for fear of seeming inappropriate or disrespectful, Armgard said after the meeting.

About 40 people attended the board meeting, held in Cashiers at the Albert Carlton Library.

Another resident in a different part of the county also recently asked commissioners to tackle the problem of barking dogs. That resident had added concerns about a neighbor firing guns.

County Planner Gerald Green noted that Jackson and Macon counties are the only local governments in the immediate region who do not have restrictions on noises made by pets and animals.

Jackson County adopted a noise ordinance in 1991; it was last amended in 2003. The county’s noise ordinance essentially prohibits any “loud, raucous and disturbing noise,” defined as “any sound, which because of its volume level, duration and character annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, health peace or safety of reasonable persons of ordinary sensibilities,” Green said.

Even if barking meets that definition, a noise ordinance doesn’t apply to pets unless it specifically says so — which Jackson’s doesn’t.

David Young, also a resident of the Norton community, provided commissioners with a copy of a letter he wrote to the dogs’ owner in July 2010, asking that something be done.

“You and I understand that roosters crow, cows moo, people talk and dogs bark,” Young wrote on the behalf of the residents of Red Fox Ridge. “Obviously, these are all natural forms of behavior/communication. My point is that typically domesticated animals are quiet at night. The nighttime barking from dogs can, I believe, be equated to a person yelling … ‘hey, hey, hey … hey … hey, hey, hey … hey, hey, hey’ outside someone’s home incessantly at inappropriate times. I believe the golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you applies here.”

The letter, Young told commissioners, fell on deaf ears.

Green asked that the board consider the requests and decide if it wanted him to work with the sheriff’s department on barking-dog restrictions.

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