PORT Stephens is poised to adopt a stance on dog barking that would collar owners with the same rules as other noisy neighbours, such as those who throw loud parties.
The council’s new policy would remove barking from the “nuisance order” category and treat it as “offensive noise” under environmental rules.
Rangers acting on “barking dog diaries” filled out by concerned neighbours would have the power to issue dog owners with 28-day noise abatement orders, which could be escalated to infringements, prevention notices and court attendance notices.
Central ward councillor Steve Tucker, who voted for the plan this month, said rangers would be more empowered to deal with complaints.
“They wouldn’t need to have a whole stack of diaries anymore; it would make it easier for rangers to investigate. You’ll still have to lodge a complaint, but it will make it easier,” Cr Tucker said.
“At the moment, people are getting frustrated because they don’t know what to do, whether a dog is barking all night or whatever. It’s a really long and involved process, and this will streamline it.”
The policy would stamp barking before 7am and after 8pm as “offensive noise”, along with barking of more than three “episodes” a day, and barking that interrupts phone calls, TV, study or conversation.
Those wanting to complain about barking dogs wouldn’t have to provide as much documentation as they do currently, with one “barking dog diary” replacing three, and complainants asked to record examples of barking.
People lodging complaints will be asked at the start of the process if they would appear as witnesses in court.
“The new policy will set Port Stephens Council apart in terms of how other peer councils manage nuisance dogs,” a council policy document says.
Cr Tucker said, “if you have a noisy party, it’s the same kind of thing”.
The proposed Port Stephens Council dog noise policy is on public exhibition until next month and is open to submissions.