Noisy dogs complaint is barking up the wrong tree, says angry owner
PUBLISHED: 10:52 17 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:19 20 August 2018
A dog owner has defended herself against claims her pets' loud barking is disturbing her neighbours.
Maria Mayes said she was mystified by the complaint to Babergh District Council, which claimed her Cocker Spaniels Tilly and Lily, along with Springer Spaniel Maisie, had been causing too much noise.
After council workers wrote to the 69-year-old in The Street, Monks Eleigh warning they had received a complaint, she even went to the lengths of posting a typed note in her village to defend herself.
“They are dogs,” she wrote.
“Dogs bark, that is how they communicate. Other dogs in the area also bark, causing ours and neighbouring dogs to bark too – have these people had complaints made against them?”
A council spokesman said a log had been given to the complainant to keep a record of the alleged disturbance.
The spokesman said many complaints do not go any further than that, either because the complainants realise the issue is not as bad as first thought or the noise subsides.
Should there be evidence it is causing a persistent problem, it could take enforcement action – but the council is not at the evidence-gathering or enforcement stage in this case, the spokesman said.
Mrs Mayes added: “I will admit, when I let the dogs out in the morning they go mental. But what I am supposed to do?”
She believes many fellow dog owners will sympathise when she says her pets bark on seeing a person pass the window.
Although she cannot take them for regular walks because she is caring for her 92-year-old husband Phil, who has dementia, Mrs Mayes plays tennis with them in the garden every day at around 7pm.
They are also allowed outside when Mrs Mayes or her husband are in the garden.
“If you see us throughout the day playing with the dogs, you will see that, with the size of our garden, they get ample exercise,” she said.
“Our dogs are the constant in my husband’s life.
“Yes he does sometimes let them out and they do bark, but I can assure you that as soon as I am able to (which is after I have made sure my husband’s needs have all been met and he is safe), I will get the dogs in or deal with the barking.”
What does the law say?
Councils have a legal obligation to look into complaints about noise which could be deemed a “statutory nuisance” under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
To qualify, it must “unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises” or be likely to “injure health”.
If the council agrees that a statutory nuisance is happening or will happen in the future, they can serve an abatement notice on the person responsible.
A dog barking would not usually constitute a statutory nuisance – unless it is regular and persistent, for example always at a certain time of the morning.
Mrs Mayes said any restrictions imposed would be sad for her and her husband.
“The dogs mean the world to us,” she said. “I wouldn’t like to think I’d have to be without them.”
She wrote on her notice: “Life is not always easy and I am doing the best I can. Maybe rather than making a complaint it would have been more neighbourly to knock on my door and ask if everything was okay and if there was anything you could do to help?”