Will barking dogs cost more?

Council delays vote pending dog control contract talks
Sussex County officials want Kent County SPCA animal control officers to enforce a proposed barking dog ordinance. BY RON MACARTHUR
November 4, 2013

A vote on a proposed excessive barking dog ordinance has been delayed again.

Sussex County Council voted 5-0 at its Oct. 29 meeting to defer on a decision until the cost of the program could be determined.

Council President Mike Vincent, R-Seaford, said the proposed administrator of the program has informed the county additional staff would be required to enforce the ordinance. Vincent said initially Kent County SPCA told council enforcement costs could be absorbed under the current contract.

“We need to know when it's all said and done is there additional cost,” Vincent said. “We do not want to pay more money.”

On Vincent's suggestion, council voted to defer a vote until after contract negotiations with Kent County SPCA for the 2014 dog-control contract were completed. The current contract expires at the end of 2013.

Council's proposed ordinance defines excessive barking as a dog that barks continuously for at least 30 minutes without being provoked by another human or animal or intentionally teased.

Complaints would be accepted by the county constable's office from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Investigations would be conducted “in a timely” manner by the Kent County SPCA. Deputy County Administrator Hal Godwin said investigations should be conducted as soon as possible with an expectation to start investigations by the end of the next working day following a complaint.

Kent County SPCA animal control officer Maj. Brian Whipple said his organization had received 60 complaints from Sussex residents about barking dogs since the start of 2013. With no enforcement regulations on the books, he said there is little or nothing officers can do.