Marlene Babura and her husband recently sat on the deck of their Tanglewood Court home in Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township, enjoying the waning hours of a warm evening. They shared some wine, and tried to share some conversation, too. “But I couldn’t hear what my husband was saying, the dog next door was barking so loud,” Babura complained Monday (Oct. 6, 2008) to the township Board of Commissioners.
Babura wants a township law that effectively muzzles noise-making dogs. Commissioners agreed to explore the matter. They directed township Manager Rodney Hawthorne to research a Robesonia (Berks County) PA law she cited as a potential model, but they expressed doubts that puting a law on the books would end Babura’s problem.
Members of Lower Pottsgrove’s governing body, who listened to Babura during the first of their two monthly meetings, readily empathized with her plight. “Believe me, I know,” board member Stephen Klotz said, confiding that he once relocated because of dog noise near his former home. “It’s annoying,” board Vice President Jonathan Spadt agreed.
Home owners who think peaceful use of their property is being interrupted by a neighbor’s pet currently must complain to Lower Pottsgrove police. An officer investigates, Police Chief Michael Shade said, and if warranted issues to the pet’s owners a warning for disorderly conduct as the result of a first offense. A citation – a ticket to appear before a district justice – is issued for subsequent offenses.
However, Klotz noted, dog owners have rights too. Peaceful enjoyment of their property includes the ability to let dogs be dogs – barking and all – outside. “So it’s the limits of enforcement that becomes the issue,” he said. “I don’t know that a dog ordinance is going to be the answer.”
Babura, who’s already been through the enforcement process, said she considers it more process than enforcement. Police ticketed her neighbor, who with Babura attended a hearing last month in the East High Street courtroom of Montgomery County (PA) District Justice John Durkin. She wasn’t satisfied with the outcome, she said, and added, “something’s got to be done.”
The dog reportedly hasn’t stopped barking, and the weather now is too cool for talk out on the deck.
Related (from the Oct. 6, 2008, Lower Pottsgrove Commissioners’ meeting):