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Dear John,

I live in a sub-division and have two dogs of my own. My neighbour breeds terriers.  She can have up to 12 dogs at a time as she has at least two to three litters a year.  These dogs can jump as high as my fence, and they also dig under the fence. Last year, her dogs killed a Guinea Pig in someones backyard.

She leaves them outside all day, which means, I can not do anything in my backyard, they yap all the time. I am scared that they are going to jump the fence when my children are playing outside and so my kids can’t enjoy our yard.  I have called the police and they agree with me, until they learn what kind of breed I have. One is a American Stafford Territory and the other is a Rottie/Pit Bull, then it goes down hill. I get a lecture about the laws concerning my dogs as the pit bull cross is a restricted breed and nothing is done.  The police told me to make my fence higher, so that her dogs couldn’t jump it, into our side. What can I do, to stop this?  With their yapping  I can’t even have my windows open. I know about the noise bylaw but if the police come to my door then mine will bark and I’m afraid I’ll get a fine too.

– One Extremely unhappy dog lover.

Dear Unhappy,

Police often view these sorts of things as merely neighbor disputes and it can take some polite persistence to be taken seriously. You can make things easier for them by organizing a bit of an evidence arsenal. Check in with whomever enforces the animal control bylaws and get a copy. Most municipalities require breeders to have a kennel license and most municipalities aren’t going to grant one to someone in a residential neighborhood. There are usually other bylaws  that companion dog owners have to follow. A common one is, ‘Dog at Large’ which typically comes into play the moment a dog walks off it’s property off lead. Another is licensing. if she is having  multiple litters a year then she likely has more then one breeding pair and the animal control should know whether they are licenced or not. Once again this is doubtful as in most places there is a limit on the number of licences each household is allowed. Another is defecation issues. In the city I live dog owners are required to keep a reasonably clean yard. If hers is not, add that to your list of concerns. If you are careful how you present your case I wouldn’t overly worry about getting fined just because your dog barks when someone comes to the door.

Police are of course understandably all about evidence, other wise it’s just one person’s word against the other. Take picture of the dogs in the yard, outside of the yard, of excessive poop in the yard. Record the barking so that you can put it in a proper context vs your dog’s barking. Get all of this on a variety of days. I wouldn’t recommend the following for anyone as an initial way to resolve an animal control complaint. Give the authorities a chance to address the problem, but you did and they didn’t.   Sit down and write a letter regarding the dogs’ history of aggression, and any bylaw contraventions. Outline your attempts to get something done and the lack of satisfactory resolution including that gem where you’re supposed to barricade your pets and children into your yard to solve the problem. Make several copies and send as registered letters to the animal control, police, your local representative.  I wouldn’t bother including the evidence collected, just let you know it’s there if they want it. For things like dog at large, the enforcement officer can’t help you if they don’t see it but if you’re willing to sign a witness statement and appear as a witness they can go ahead and add that to charges. I think there are enough possibilities with the illegal kennel and lack of licenses that you won’t need to go the witness route but if you have to, you have to. You’re entitled to the quiet enjoyment of your yard let alone the safety of your children so I wouldn’t hesitate to play hard ball.


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