Dog barking noise / abatement order

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Dog barking noise / abatement order

Postby doctor_rockter » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:20 pm

Hi,
Can anyone advise, or has anyone had similar problems?

We have had on-going problems with our neighbour and next door but one neighbour for 18 months. They have the problems with our dogs - they are doing the complaining.
To date, we have had four letters from the council advising us of the problem. Last week we received an ‘Abatement Notice for a Statutory Nuisance’.

Right at the start, when we moved to this house, we dealt direct with our adjoining neighbours (semi-detached house). There were some problems with our two dogs barking and we investigated and made improvements. The neighbours were happy with what we did, and we told them to let us know if anything changed. A couple of weeks later, we got the first letter from the council, so our relationship took a dive from there on! They hadn’t said anything to us and just reported us straight to the council. We no longer speak to them.

As I mentioned, we’ve had a string of letters from the council. They’ve tried everything – dogs barking from 5am, dogs barking from 6am, dogs barking throughout the day, dogs barking outside. Each time, the complaint eventually gets closed off – the guy at the council tells us they close the complaints as the neighbours say the situation improves.

We’ve put a hell of a lot of work into keeping our two dogs as quiet as possible, but they are dogs – they do bark. They tend to bark when someone comes to the door and they do like to play in the garden. We limit them to ten mins playing in the garden. This isn’t constant barking – just the occasional yap. If it develops into constant barking we stop them. Usually they just play for five mins, but if it goes on for ten mins, we stop them and bring them in. We then make sure there is at least half an hour quiet. We try out best to keep the noise reasonable, but it still isn’t good enough for them. I just think our neighbours expectations are pretty much zero noise.

The complaints have only ever come from the adjoining house and their neighbour. They are in it together and put the complaints in at the same time. Our other neighbour across the drive are absolutely fine and say there is no problem whatsoever. I know for certain one of the complainants stopped another neighbour on the street to try to get her involved.

So we now have the abatement order. I’ve spoken to the guy at the council and they have absolutely no evidence of a nuisance. It has been served entirely on what the two complainants are saying. We are pretty dumbfounded by this – we’ve been served with a heavy-going notice threatening court action, etc, and it’s all based on what they say. The nuisance as per the order is ‘frequent barking throughout the day’. A friend (who has experience of noise matters) says because there are two complains from two addresses, this is seen as corroborative evidence. That’s probably why an order has been served despite no evidence. Basically, the two complainants have pestered or bullied the council into taking further action.

Any advice on how to fight back? I’ve tried the citizen’s advice, but they say they can’t help on this issue. Solicitors don’t seem to be offering free consults for this problem and they are £170/hour. I do have some money I can use – it’s been left to me though and I’m not too keen to use it for solicitor’s fees, but if I have to, I can. Someone mentioned we could use our home insurance legal cover. I haven’t looked into this and I can’t see how would be possible, but it’s worth a look.

We’ve got 21days to appeal (about 14days left now). I could write a very good appeal letter myself, but I’m not sure how successful I’d be – would we need backing from a solicitor?

My appeal would be on number of points –

- there is no independent evidence
- the two complainants are in it together, ie not corroborative evidence
- ‘frequent barking’ means nothing. I will challenge this. Frequent could mean every hour, or twice a day. The council guy says that to take it further (ie, court, etc) there will have to be proof of frequent and continuous barking. This is simply not the case and I’m currently recording sound levels every day to dispute the order.
- my wife’s name is incorrect on her copy of the order! They’ve used her maiden name despite her telling them on several occasions.

Sorry this has gone on! I tried to keep it reasonably concise. We were absolutely floored when we got the notices. It is really getting my wife and I down and it just makes us poorly. We have considered moving house after only 18months here. We shouldn’t have to.

Any advice for me?

Many thanks,
Dr_Rockter
Lancs, UK.
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Re: Dog barking noise / abatement order

Postby COGGY » Wed Sep 04, 2013 12:41 am

If the neighbours tried to involve another neighbour in complaining, would they speak up for you? Are you both out all day and the dogs home alone? If so they may bark more than you realise. Would it be possible to make a 24 hour recording to show how much the dogs bark? I can see that continuous barking would annoy, but dogs do bark. We talk, dogs bark, it is a fact of life. I can't see how a letter from a solicitor would help you. Challenge the notice and ask the Council to arrange to make a 24 hour recording. Maybe your neighbours have nothing much to think about apart from your dogs.
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Re: Dog barking noise / abatement order

Postby doctor_rockter » Wed Sep 04, 2013 3:29 pm

Yes, our neighbours have nothing better to do for sure! I work full time and my wife works 2days per week. So up to press, the dogs are left 2days from 8ish until 4ish. We have dog walkers come in at 11ish. In a week, my wife is changing job, so the dogs will be left 4 days, but only 2:30pm until 5:15pm.
We have one older dog who suffers anxiety when left. She hasn't been left since June when our son left school. We left her yesterday as everyone was at work and the son started work too. Unfortunately she barked from 8:20 until 10:20am when the dog walkers came. We are pretty devastated by this and in an unusual move, the neighbours sent us a hand-written note to tell us about the barking and to tell us it wasn't acceptable! We wrote back the same evening apologising and telling them why it happened - ie, all back at work. We pointed out that she was quiet all afternoon and yesterday was the only time there has been prolonged barking - we have lots of recordings showing no frequent / prolonged barking.
We were upset because we are busy saying there isn't a bad barking problem, then Rosie does this!! Our other dog isn't a problem when left. We are going to get the dog walkers (also dog trainers) to see if they can advise on the anxiety when left. The order comes into force in 2days, so if our neighbours get any similar evidence such as yesterday, we will be in serious trouble (although the evidence would have to be independent - ie, council's recording equipment). We are just not going to have to leave her - she's going to have to go in the wife's car when she works. Unless the dog people come up with something good!
I have daily recordings - about a weeks worth so far, with no problem apart from yesterday. I'm continuing recording. I also have lots of noise data from earlier in the year and last year.
I wouldn't put it past our neighbours to do something to provoke the dogs, but I have to admit there wasn't anything yesterday.
I'm not sure if the other neighbour who was approached would be prepared to get involved. I'm just going to use it on my appeal and not name her. My point is that there aren't two independent houses complaining - there are two neighbours who are in it together and have actively tried to get more people against us. Also known as a vendetta !
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Re: Dog barking noise / abatement order

Postby gardenlaw » Sun Sep 08, 2013 11:56 am

Whilst I understand your anxiety as we all love our pets, unfortunately I sympathise with your neighbours. We have been in the situation where a neighbour's dog barked constantly whilst the neighbour was out. It was 9 hours on one day! Whilst we do have a life, even for one hour, the noise is enough to drive you insane!

The usual advice in this situation is to provide your dogs with toys to avoid boredom. May be some music would help to reassure them.
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Re: Dog barking noise / abatement order

Postby easyboss » Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:51 am

The sad fact is that sometimes where we live and dogs do not always go hand in hand. In an ideal world, we would all live scenic country lifestyles where our dogs could bark all they want but reality is we don`t and problems occur when we try and find that ideal.
I have been reported to the sspca over silly trivial matters which ended up being recorded as malicious reporting thankfully over my puppy whining through the night. I explained to my neighbour i had a pup but he would smile to me and stab me in the back via his reporting. That`s life i guess. However, neighbours do have a right to quiet and barking is a big no no when we are living in tightly compacted urban areas.
My advice is to buy yourself a couple of citronella spray collars that let off a harmless spray everytime the dogs barks, Then take it off upon your return home. They work very well and cost about 50 quid.
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Re: Dog barking noise / abatement order

Postby Collaborate » Mon Oct 10, 2016 8:28 am

Find some way to record the sounds your dogs make throughout the day. That way you can have evidence to refute any claims, or you will see that there is a problem. The neighbours can't expect silence, but it is a question of degree.
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Re: Dog barking noise / abatement order

Postby jonahinoz » Sat Oct 15, 2016 7:07 pm

Hi,

My neighbours have a little girl who can scream like a steam whistle. The boys are less strident, but go on for longer. We have aircraft performing stunts overhead (We even had the Vulcan pass directly over our house ... very low ... very slow). The "scrappie" drives past with his loud speaker at full blast. The ice cream van seems to be testing our house for the Jerico syndrome. One next door neighbour mows his lawn .. frequently. The other always has a hammer or saw on the go.

I feel entitled to let our tiny JRT shout warnings at possible footpads in the front garden when I take him out four times a day. Strangely, he never makes a sound in the dark.

We all get on well.

John W
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