Honolulu Star-Bulletin - Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Tuesday, May 18, 1999

Barking dogs: You need
second complainer

Question: Can you help in getting the Hawaiian Humane Society to conduct an adequate investigation of my continued complaint about barking and howling dogs at a house on Alaeloa Street? About two years ago, the number of dogs expanded from three to eight. I spoke to the owner several times and he made some efforts to quiet the dogs.

When the dogs also began howling many days from two to eight times a day, I began calling the HHS with many complaints. An HHS officer did visit the neighbor in early 1998 and there was a decrease in barking, but that did not last. I was told to tape-record the barking, which I did, but nothing much changed.

Last June, I sent a letter outlining the problem, but got no response. I phoned in more complaints early this year. I was told they had "monitored the situation several times" and did not find the dogs to be barking excessively. He said they would close the case unless we got a neighbor to send a formal written complaint. A few weeks ago, a ninth dog was added. Another neighbor is willing to confirm the barking.

Answer: The key is whether your neighbor is willing to testify, with you, in court, about the noise.

The HHS was familiar with your case, although there was no record of any complaints from you since the beginning of the year, said Charles Duncan, manager of field services. However, based on your written complaint to Kokua Line, giving the name of a neighbor willing to back you, a new case will be initiated, he said.

No citations have been issued "because we haven't actually heard a violation of the ordinance," he said. A violation means continuous barking for 10 minutes or intermittent barking over 30 minutes.

Officers sent to monitor a situation normally will park on the street for 15 to 30 minutes.

"The problem is that we can't be there at all times of the day or night when the dogs are going off," Duncan said. "We try to get there and monitor as often as we can within the limitations of our operations."

"Barking complaints are probably one of the hardest to resolve, especially when you have someone who doesn't necessarily want to resolve it," Duncan said. However, your neighbor "has invested in bark control devices and is trying his best to keep his dogs quiet."

The problem may be too many dogs, but the dogs are licensed and people are allowed, by law, to keep up to 10 dogs.

Citations sometimes can be based on a tape recording, "but nothing was issued" in your case, Duncan said. You were advised to do a "two-party statement" because you were the only one complaining and because HHS officers were not able to find a violation.

However, getting a two-party statement is not easy. "A lot of people will say that (the noise) annoys them, but when they find out they have to testify in court to the fact because someone is going to get cited, then they back off," Duncan said.

To proceed with a violation, there must be two parties involved -- the complainant plus an HHS officer, another person or a police officer, he said.

Police usually will refer animal nuisance calls to HHS, although HHS has asked them to respond, if possible, especially at night when the HHS can't.

"Most complainants would like to see the dogs removed, but the ordinance at the present time does not have a removal clause where dogs can be taken."


At Kaneohe Bay sandbar last weekend. Call Wally, 438-0170, if you think you know the owner.

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to kokualine@starbulletin.com

E-mail to City Desk

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