A New Jersey town is looking to crack down on dogs who bark too much with a new proposal that could see pet owners thrown in jail.
That’s right–residents whose dogs impede the “comfort or repose of anyone in the vicinity” in Saddle River, New Jersey, could face steep fines ranging between $100 to $1,000 along with possible sentences of community service or even incarceration for up to 90 days. In each case, the punitive consequences would be left up to the judge.
The Saddle River city council already had a single-sentence law on the books that barred loud dog barking but now hopes to prevent howls, yelps and barks with a far more specific law against canine cacophony.
The proposed ordinance states:
“No person shall own, keep, harbor or permit any dog to annoy neighbors or other persons living within the immediate vicinity of the Borough of Saddle River by loud, frequent or habitual continuous barking, howling or yelping for a period of more than 20 continuous minutes between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. or for a period of more than 15 continuous minutes between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.”
Saddle River municipal officials hope that the new language will help city officials finally enforce the ordinance, which had previously led to an unspecified incident that authorities were unable to clamp down on. The ordinance will also prohibit from trespassing and property damage by dogs.
Saddle River Borough Administrator Jerry Giaimis told NJ.com that the previous law “wasn’t enforceable” due to the lack of time restrictions.
In a separate interview, he told News12 that city residents are fine with the proposed change. Giannis explained:
“I have, since the introduction of this ordinance, not received one phone call from anybody in town… Every now and then when an issue comes before us and we realize we need to change an ordinance and make it better, we do that.”
Nobody likes a nuisance in the neighborhood, be it human or canine, but this new law, which will be up for a public hearing and vote on March 18, seems like a classic case of local government veering into absurd territory in an attempt to assert its authority.