AKRON, Ohio — City council wants to put more teeth into a city ordinance that intends to address the annoyance of dogs that will not stop barking.
The city’s current ordinance treats the problem as a minor misdemeanor, punishable by a $100 fine, regardless of how many times the dog owner offends.
Councilman Russ Neal wants the punishment to be stiffer.
Neal says the city’s animal control department has, at most, two employees working during the daytime and often no one at night.
That means police officers are called on at times to address barking dogs when they should be free to address other matters.
“What we want to see is a stiffer penalty so that repeat offenders of the ordinance will think twice before allowing the dog to continue to disturb the neighborhood,” said Neal.
Neal is proposing an ordinance that would make the fine for a second offense $250, and allow for the possibility of 60 days in jail.
Safety committee chairman Donnie Kammer believes even that is too soft.
Kammer was looking at a law that is on the books in Cincinnati that graduates the punishment up to $1,000 for multiple offenses.
“I would like to see it tougher, especially when residents are calling the city; they are asking for help in regards to the barking dogs and the animal warden might go out and educate that dog owner, but if we need individuals that want to testify I believe we need a stiffer penalty.”
Neal says the most frequent offenders are people who leave their dog outdoors when they go to work; although, Kammer says he had a dog in his neighborhood that was creating a fuss because it was constantly barking from inside a house, but could be heard through an open window.
Neal believes the city could ultimately also have a volunteer animal control group that could help educate pet owners.
“If we could have people to help educate folks hopefully that will help curtail a lot of the issues that we have and then for those who just willfully violate the rights of their neighbors, then that’s why we have to look at increasing the fine,” said Neal.
Among dog owners in Akron there are differences of opinion.
“I think first time around they should be given a warning and the second time if it happens again they should be harshly punished because there’s no reason for that,” said Helen McCoy.
“I think dogs are there to protect their houses and their owners and they are there to help humans; I mean an annoying law doesn’t make sense,” said Catlin Miller.
The various proposals are still in discussion within council.