Dog owners in Greene County have a little added incentive to keep their family pets under control. Too much barking and the dog owners could face a fine.
Greene County's board of supervisors passed an animal noise ordinance aimed at quieting down neighborhoods that have dogs that bark excessively.
The new animal noise ordinance allows citizens to file a complaint if barking or howling goes on for longer than 20 minutes. That's a class three misdemeanor.
Greene County Administrator Barry Clark explained, "The judge may impose a fine if it's brought before court. It states that if it's three occurances in a year's time that the court could ask to have the dog removed from the premises. "
Clark says the burden of proof in any complaint is on the complainer. "You would probably be required to record them barking. You'd have to prove that it's continuous for over 20 minutes, and that may be done through a recording, maybe other witnesses in the neighborhood."
Debbie Jo McGowan is a dog owner from Stanardsville. She said about the ordinance, "I think as a dog owner you need to be responsible for your animals. I do the best I can to keep our dogs inside and under control. "
Clark says most of the complaints he has heard are in Greene's growing residential areas. News of the new rule has made McGowan think.
"I think if a complaint was filed against me I probably would more than likely take more responsibility. So, in that case, I think it probably is a good idea," stated McGowan.
Clark told us that the ordinance takes law enforcement and animal control officers out of the equation when someone has a problem with a neighbor's dog. People who have complaints can file them at the magistrate's office.