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Barking Mad Part 1

Barking is probably one of the most common complaints people have about dogs. Most of the usual questions I receive are from dog owners requesting advice on how to stop their own dogs from barking. Recently though, I have had many more people complaining about other peoples noisy dogs.

Since coming to Spain, I have always advised people to try to talk diplomatically to the dog owners in the hope they understand the problem. If they do nothing to help, then make a complaint to the authorities. I know that everyone it entitled to some piece and quiet that is enforceable by law.

Unfortunately, this is often no longer the case. Increasingly we seem to see more of a polarisation between any form of elected representatives and the ordinary taxpayer. No longer does it seem that they work on our behalf for our good; we it seems work for them. Only when the elections come round, suddenly they try to become all things to all people.

As I have learnt from so many people, trying to achieve anything from the authorities is almost impossible. They pay lip service to the complaint, but then do nothing. Though this is often the case, I do suggest you attempt the town hall method and keep a record of your complaints. It is still the law that if authorities appear selective against whom they take action then the law is unenforceable.

If you remember, an Asian man received a parking ticket by a Benidorm police officer, but he did not give tickets to all the other illegally parked cars. The man won his case to have the fine quashed, because the officer was being selective.

I regularly receive many cases regarding noisy dogs and these are only a selection to show you what I mean.

In one case, an owner left a Husky inside the house all day for most of the week. It howled all the time, much to the annoyance of the next-door neighbour, who only had an interior wall between both properties. Though the complainant spoke to the owner of the dog, he was not interested. He then made a complaint to the town hall over a year ago. When he went to see what was happening, they could not find the original complaint. As he had also lost his copy, the town hall said they could do nothing. He did though, find another neighbour had also complained and got the same result.

I had a telephone call from one woman who had pushed her town hall into doing something about her neighbour’s noisy dog. After repeated requests for some action, it turned out the owner of the dog was a friend of the Mayor. End of story.

More recently, a man telephoned me to say that there were dogs in the property next door. He said that the owner left them for twenty-three and a half hours a day, during which time they barked incessantly. He felt that some were so bored that they were like animals in a zoo, just pacing back and forth because they had nothing to do. Again, the owner was not interested and he even became aggressive, when asked to quieten his dogs.

Yet another case, a dog owner regularly came for two weeks at a time, to their property on an urbanisation. Whenever they went out leaving their dogs at home, they barked continuously until they heard their owners returning. However, when the residents complained, the owner replied that he could not do anything, as they were guarding his house. He then said that, as they would be gone in a week, people should stop complaining.

One woman told me she had a complaint from her neighbour about her noisy dogs. She said they did make a noise when she left in the morning, but they soon settled down. She also thought the neighbour’s builders, who were working on their house, were setting them off howling.

I gave her some advice on how to quieten them, which she followed and asked her mother to check to see if they were still making a noise, but they always seemed quiet. About a week later, when she was near her house, her dogs started howling. It was then she appreciated how her neighbour must feel.

One man telephoned me last week to say he had made repeated complaints to both the dog’s owner and the town hall. Eventually someone in authority arrived and said they would go to speak to the owners.

Whilst watched by other residents, the owners opened a bottle of wine, had a few laughs and then later the investigator left. The complainant asked what the outcome of the meeting was, only to learn there was nothing the town hall could do. End of story.

One call was from a concerned property owner living on an urbanisation. He said that the elected committee were seeking to order the removal of two of three dogs of an elderly woman because they were noisy. He agreed that sometimes they did bark, but no one was complaining, as she was a dear old lady. Apparently, the rules of the urbanisation were that owners could only have one dog or cat per household. I suggested that as the committee works for the urbanisation, if they did not like the rules, they should demand a meeting to change them. Apparently, this is what they did.

Many years ago, we were on holiday in an apartment on the Costa del Sol. The lady caretaker complained about my young daughter swimming in the outside pool whilst she wore a tee shirt to protect her from the sun. Normal standard doctor’s advice you would think, not according to the chairman of the committee who was staying there at the time.

Eventually he let me see a copy of the rules banning the wearing of outdoor clothes in the swimming pool. Once having read them, I pointed out the committee had adopted those for an indoor swimming pool. He still would not agree that small children should wear a tee shirt for protection from the sun, even when swimming. My daughter and I swam for over an hour waiting for the police to arrive. They never did.

Once some people have power, there is no stopping them; rules are rules, even if medically unsound. I understand that the owner of our apartment took the matter up with the committee after they told her never to rent her apartment to us again.

For people who have problems with barking dogs, they will sometimes find owners prepared to try to solve the problem. For others, some are just unwilling to do anything to help. With such cases as these, more and more authorities show little interest in what they see as seemingly trivial neighbourhood complaints. Often they will say dogs are dogs or that those barking are simply guarding their owner’s property.

Therefore, if the owner will not do anything and neither will the authorities, what can you do to have some piece and quiet?

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