Ratepayer's claims that dog’s bark is worse than council’s bite

HOUNDED: Orange resident Ben Wells claims his neighbour's basset hound is contantly barking. 
Photo: STEVE HOSCH 0707sgdog

HOUNDED: Orange resident Ben Wells claims his neighbour's basset hound is contantly barking. Photo: STEVE HOSCH 0707sgdog

ORANGE City Council staff have defended their handling of a complaint by a resident who said his neighbour’s dog had barked incessantly for seven years and council had not taken his complaints seriously. 

Ben Wells said he had complained about the barking dog “countless times” within the last seven years and, the owners had complied with requests to quieten the dog “on and off”. 

A recent change to his neighbour’s family structure meant the hound had been locked outside more regularly in the last three months and the barking had become worse.

Mr Wells said it was the most irritating noise he had heard.

“It’s not happening at night much but during the day it’s so annoying, you can’t have a rest and there’s a shift worker across the road,” he said.

Council rangers had visited Mr Wells last week after his complaints.

He said he was told there was nothing they could do to stop the dog barking because they did not have the time to wait outside with a sound level meter to record whether the noise could be deemed offensive.

Council rejected the claim in a statement from spokesperson Nick Redmond.

“In relation to resourcing council rangers have been on site on numerous occasions for approximately 30 minutes at a time,” the statement said.

“They’ve never fined them before because they won’t sit there and listen to it, I’m a ratepayer so I think I’m entitled to the service ... It’s constant barking ... up to an hour"

“Those visits have not found the dog to be barking excessively during those times. Additionally, it has historically been difficult to gather evidence from other neighbours.”

Council could issue a nuisance order on the dog which meant the owner would have to stop the dog barking or council could issue fines. 

Mr Redmond said Mr Wells’s neighbour had been issued with nuisance orders in the past, but the orders could only legally last six months. 

“So if a matter arises outside that timeframe the process starts again, which is a requirement of the legislation,” he said.

“Between January this year and mid June council did not receive any complaints however in the last three weeks we have received four complaints.”

Mr Redmond said the legal process for issuing a nuisance order had started again.

Mr Wells said he had refused to record a diary of the times the dog was barking to give rangers as evidence because he was not a “school kid”.

“They’ve never fined them before because they won’t sit there and listen to it, I’m a ratepayer so I think I’m entitled to the service,” Mr Wells said. 

“It’s constant barking ... up to an hour.”

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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