Barking dogs can create a nuisance to others. Many city and county laws exist to ensure that dog noise does not disturb other residents. Snohomish County, Wash., has ordinances that address both privately owned dogs and dogs in commercial establishments, such as boarding and breeding kennels and grooming sites. The ordinances address what constitutes problem barking and the times of day that dogs must be kept quiet.
The definition of excessive barking is barking during certain hours for more than five minutes at a time or barking by one or more dogs for 10 minutes during any half-hour period, according to Snohomish County Code, Title 10, Chapter 10.01, Subsection 10.01.050. Barking is part of the law related to noise nuisances.
County Code Title 10 defines "quite time hours" as 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. for non-holiday weekdays and from 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. on weekends and legal holidays, for private owners. Licensed commercial kennels observe "quiet time" Monday to Friday from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and weekends from 10 p.m. until 8 a.m. Although the codes specifically address noise during "quiet time" hours, dogs that bark excessively during the daytime also may be subject to fines by the city, county, homeowners association or apartment management.
Law enforcement agencies and animal control are responsible for enforcing barking violations. Individuals may file civil lawsuits against the owner of dogs that bark excessively. According to Ordinance 06-0133, the fine for a barking dog for a private owner is $50. Fines under County Code Title 10 vary depending on whether a private owner or commercial establishment commits a violation and how many violations occur. Although Snohomish County Ordinance No. 06-136 removed the section on quiet hours relating to commercial dog businesses in 2006, these businesses still are regulated under County Code Title 10. Judge Mary Alice Theiler of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington ruled in 2007 that the regulation on noise control was constitutional. For complaints about animal nuisance issues in Snohomish County, Wash., contact the Animal Complaint Hotline at 425-388-3440.