REPORT from PERTH, WA

Braden Quartermaine

July 14, 2007 02:00pm

DOGS that never shut up are driving people barking mad across Perth's suburbs.
Nuisance dog barking is causing fist-fights and abuse, forcing people to move home and
sending them into nervous breakdowns, according to lobby group Barkstop.

The group will reform this week to fight for the rights of residents who feel they have
nowhere to turn.

Barkstop co-ordinator 'Susan' said tough new legislation was needed and that
serial-offending animals should be removed from their owners.

She said the courts were failing to crack down on rogue owners, who knew they could get
away with making people's lives a misery.

"These people who have these unruly dogs are very vindictive and malicious,'' she said.

"And they just deny it.''

Susan, also a dog owner, said barking dogs were a huge problem.

"It's a stress that's there every day,'' she said.

"It's the worst type of private invasion. With a burglary, you get invaded once. With this,
you've got it every day, invading your space.

"It's driving people crazy. People have sold up their homes ... they've had nervous
breakdowns from the continual stress.

"It's about time something was done. They really have to come down hard on them.''

WA Local Government Association president Bill Mitchell said councils had enough power
to deal with the problem during the day.

"Councils only administer during 9-5, and a lot of the incidents happen at night or when
rangers aren't on duty,'' he said.

Mr Mitchell said with high-density living becoming the norm, noise issues were more
common.

"The more we live in each other's pockets, the more these issues seem to bubble to the
surface,'' he said.

"I think there needs to be more understanding between neighbours.

"Mediation and discussion with neighbours is always the first recourse. Dobbing someone
in and calling police and rangers is hopefully a last resort.''

The Department for Local Government and Regional Development said people annoyed
by a neighbour's dog barking should drop a letter, if preferred anonymously, at the
owner's premises.

A complaint can later be made to local council rangers.

Dog owners may be taken to court to face fines of up to $2000