West Tamar Council
Enquiries:†††††† Jonathan Linster I Sarah van Tienen
Phone : (03) 6323 9300
Fax:† (03) 6323 9349
20 June, 2007
ALLEGED NUISANCE DOG BARKING COMPLAINT
Thank you for your recent report of an alleged dog nuisance.
West Tamar Council have put together an alleged dog barking complaint package to fulfil the
requirements of State Legislation, allow fairness to all parties concerned, and to gather true and
Resolving alleged dog barking complaints can be a Lengthy, difficult and complex issue and
although most aggrieved parties would like immediate action, the reality is that alleged dog
nuisance complaints are difficult to resolve due to reasons such as,
a.†††††††††††† Barking is very subjective, with many different interpretations as to what is a nuisance.
The degree of annoyance, therefore, varies with the location of the dog, and the tolerance of the
b.†††††††††††† It is extremely difficult to collect reliable and permanent evidence of the frequency, and
loudness of a dogís barking. Should court proceedings be required to abate the nuisance a high
standard of evidence is required.
c,†††††††††††† An alleged barking complaint may in some cases be one aspect of a neighbourly dispute;
council needs to ensure complaints are not vexatious.
d.†††††††††††† Dog owners are seldom bothered by their own dogís barking and often unaware that it is
causing a nuisance to others. Some dog owners have difficulty in believing that their dog barks
excessively. This is usually because the dog barks when the owners are out, when they return home
the dog stops barking, or decreases itís barking to a more acceptable level.
For the reasons listed above, it is therefore crucial that the aggrieved party approach the dog owner
as soon as the dogs barking becomes a nuisance.
In a vast majority of cases, when the dog owner is made aware in a courteous, informative and
neighbourly fashion, the problem is usually resolved.
Never send or leave an anonymous letter as this often leads to bad feelings, and causes a
breakdown in communications.
After approaching the dog's owner and the alleged nuisance has not improved within 14 days, you
need to send a signed/dated letter, giving details of the alleged barking complaint and return to
council using the reply paid envelope supplied.
Council will then informally contact the dog owner and surrounding neighbours (your details remain
anonymous throughout this process), The dog owner will be offered advice and informed of the
consequences if the alleged nuisance, if proven, is not abated.
If after 28 days there is no improvement in the dogís behaviour, you will need to complete the
enclosed official complaint form (blue copy) and return it to the council with the appropriate fee.
Upon receipt of the official complaint form council will formally investigate the complaint. You will
need to start the barking diary (green copy) and return it to council after 14 days continuous
rnonitoring. (At least two other barking diaries will be offered to various neighbours in the vicinity to
As part of the official investigation it is usually a requirement to obtain signed statements from you
as the complainant, as well as at least two other witnesses from separate households within close
proximity of the alleged complaint who are also willing, if required, to attend court
If after the official investigation, the alleged complaint is not resolved, the general manager will
consider from the evidence of the investigation whether the complaint has substance. The general
manager at this stage, may institute proceedings.
Upon receipt of at least three dog barking diaries, statements and other evidence council has
several options; -
Monitor the problem for a further 14 days if minimal change has taken place
Issue a legal notice demanding immediate abatement of the nuisance
Issue a $2OO infringement notice
Instigate court proceedings against the dog owner
Notify you the complainant, of insufficient evidence to proceed
You and other witnesses may be called upon to give evidence in court if required, but court will only
be used when all avenues to abate an alleged nuisance have failed and sufficient evidence has
been gathered to proceed.
Jonathan Linster / Sarah van Tienen
ANIMAL MANAGEMENT OFFICERS
The letter reproduced below is an example of the hurdles that councils devise
to deter the victims of barking offences from complaining.
This letter from the West Tamar Council may be sent to anyone in its region
wanting to officially report an alleged barking offence.
It starts off quite well with its accurate portrayal of some of barking's causes but then degenerates
into absurdity by stipulating legally unsupportable requirements before it will take action.
Any council may ask for anything from any complainant, but no complainant is obliged to do
anything more than the legislation requires of him. Basic requirements are listed in the Dog Control
Act 2000, the barking provisions of which appear elsewhere in this website under BARKING LAWS.
This list of stipulations from the West Tamar Council, if complied with, can defer that council's
remedial intervention for months while the suffering barking victim sets about doing the council's job
for it in compiling a barking diary and soliciting support from probably unwilling neighbours.
Such requirements, while sometimes appearing reasonable, are actually quite specious.
Their real intent is to shut the barking victim up
and defer council action indefinitely,
Councils, despite their superficial courtesies (if you're lucky!) see the legitimate complainant as the
pest, and not the dog.
It is the council that will be prosecuting the offender, if it can't find any way to avoid it, and not the
complainant. It is the council's task therefore to amass sufficient provable evidence to support its
case in court, should the offender choose to deny his offences.
It is NOT the complainant's task to amass evidence in support of THE COUNCIL's case.
Australia's anti-barking activists are unanimous in recommending no contact between the
complainant and the offender.
An elderly pensioner at Grindelwald, in this council's area, has lodged 4 formal
barking complaints over recent years.
The West Tamar Council has charged her $20 each time, this being the
complaint fee it requires to initiate its investigation into such allegations.
On each occasion the council has declared that it has not found sufficent
evidence to substantiate the complaints and after declaring this lady's
complaints have no substance it has swiped her fees.
It refuses to give them back.