How I Dealt with My Barking Dog – A Case Study of the Philadelphia Dog Barking Law –

Fritz - Public Enemy No. 1.

I’ve been suspicious for some time that a number of our local journalists troll the forum for article ideas  – whether annexed sidewalks, internet cafe gambling, or local tire lots.

My suspicions were recently confirmed the other day when, out of the blue, I got a call from a Daily News journalist about this thread. Apparently, the City Howl has received a number of complaints from readers whose neighbors have dogs that never. Stop. Barking. When neighbors try to get these issues remedied, they often get passed around from 311, to the police, to the SPCA, to ACCT. They want relief and canine justice under law.

Believe it or not, Philadelphia does have an anti-barking law  – found at Philadelphia City Code §10-403(6):

Animal Sounds. No person shall cause or permit more than 5 expressions of sound from one or more animals (such as individual barks from one or more dogs) during a five minute period from any property audible at a distance greater than 50 feet from the property boundary. This shall not apply to zoos, veterinary hospitals or clinics, animal shelters, a circus or other licensed entertainment venue, or a facility used for educational or scientific purposes, such as schools and laboratories.

Apparently, the fine for violating this section begins at $100 for a first violation and goes up to $700 for a fourth or subsequent violation. Not chump change.

As the owner of a tiny, barky rescue mutt named Fritz, I became concerned that I might be held responsible for his actions. So I had a stern talking to with him where I explained that barking is clearly against the house rules.

He continues to refuse to listen. I don’t want to be held responsible for his actions. So, looking at the language of the statute, I’ve figured a way out of liability – a lawyer letter to my dog.

So, Fritz, I now write this letter to you, that you understand the difficult circumstances you’ve put me in.

Dear Fritz:

This letter is a follow up to our conversation earlier this week, when I explained to you that barking is clearly against the House Rules (hereinafter referred to as “Rules”).

Despite my repeated corrections and newspaper-nose-whaps, you continue to violate the Rules regarding barking more than 5 times during any five minute period, where the aforesaid barks are audible at a distance greater than 50 feet. Please be advised that I neither permit nor cause you to bark in such a manner. Continued barks will be met with corrections and newspaper-nose-whaps until you comply with the Rules. Be considerate of your neighbors and use your inside voice.

Please note that I will not be held responsible for any fines or citations for your continued violations of Philadelphia City Code §10-403(6). I will be prepared to call Heidi, your sister, as a witness against you to prove that you had prior notice of your violations.

Unless I hear from you in writing to the contrary within ten (10) days of the date of this letter, I will assume that you agree to indemnify me from any such aforementioned fines or citations.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Very Truly Yours,

cc: Heidi the Dog.

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