Friday, April 20, 2007

Not-so-neighborly new neighbors

We have some new neighbors across our back yard. At least I think we have new neighbors -- I haven't actually seen them yet, but I am well acquainted with their two dogs.

The dogs are large -- and loud -- and appear to be the results of an encounter between a Doberman and a St. Bernard. They spend all day, every day, alone in their back yard, and being dogs, they bark at anything, everything, and in some cases, nothing at all.

Now, I am not a curmudgeon when it comes to four-legged friends. Our daughter and son-in-law have two dogs, both very sweet (and usually quiet), who visit often and who enjoy their time at grandpa and grandma's house. But these not-so-neighborly new neighbors have already worn out their welcome. My research into nuisance barking leads me to believe that their owners probably know about the barking already and won't do anything if I confront them. So, I am faced with having my backyard tranquility ruined, and there isn't a darned thing I can do about it.

Over the twenty years that we have lived in our house, we have had occasional problems with nuisance barking. Even though Douglas County has an ordinance that theoretically outlaws nuisance barking, I have yet to see any pet owner held accountable for their pet's behavior. So, it's not likely that I will waste my time by contacting the Sheriff's Department about my noisy neighbors.

Unfortunately, our criminal and civil court system just isn't very concerned about disturbing the peace, at least when the culprits are dogs and irresponsible dog owners. Precisely for this reason, the city of Charleston, South Carolina, created a livibility court to deal with quality of life issues, including nuisance barking. Perhaps the time has come for Douglas County to do the same.

In the meantime, I will keep the television volume turned up, and hope that frequent spring rains keep my noisy neighbors inside. Wish me luck...

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