Thursday, February 4, 2010

Our Story

I started the web website due to frustration. My husband and I looked for houses for about a year before we found ours. We would go to prospective properties and sit on the curb and listen, day and night, to make sure it was a quiet area. We turned down several houses due to dog barking.

Ironically, a year after we bought our house, the neighbor sold and a narcissist with a dog moved in. He seemed very nice, and when he said he had a dog he looked at us and said, "don't worry, he doesn't bark". Hmmm. Blatant lie. And I wonder what kind of trouble he had where he was renting before to have brought it up first thing without us even mentioning it to him? He left the dog out day and night, it woke us up at 6am every morning, barked all day and into the night until he would come home (anywhere from 5-10pm). The dog was completely untrained and so if they had company they had to put him outside because they couldn't control him. He would of course bark the entire time because the people were inside and he was not. Even if the dog were inside, he would sit on the couch, look out the window and bark at everyone walking by. We went over to talk to them about the fence between our properties and he asked us if the dog was barking. For some reason, I answered NO! I guess politeness and the wish to avoid conflict is a strong human instinct. My husband thankfully had the guts to say yes, a lot. The owner said he would try to keep him inside more but of course the problem persisted. My husband and I talked with them several times about the problem, the owner made several promises he did not keep such as bark collars, keeping him in, taking him to work etc. Sometimes the owner would actually keep the dog in for a few days, but then it was back to business as usual. Not to mention the dog barked even when inside. I should mention that our house is 15 feet from theirs, so it sounds like the dog is in our house no matter where he is barking. We tried the sonic trainer, which of course did not work and just pissed the neighbor off. We took it down the minute he complained that he was worried it would hurt his son’s hearing. We were so naive at this point!

We called the humane society finally and they sent a letter to the owner. The dog stayed inside a little more, but it was still a huge problem. I finally wrote a letter myself and enclosed information on dog trainers. I am part German and pretty much say what I think, so the letter may have been too brutally honest (maybe the part about how if they don’t have time to spend with the dog that they shouldn’t have one was what did it?). Anyway, the man got irate and basically started not only leaving the dog out but harassing me when I would go into the yard. For example, I went out to pick figs one day and he and his wife and their friends came out onto their porch and started saying things loudly such as, “Oh, don’t mention the dog! Don’t want to upset the neighbors.” I was pretty shocked that a guy who has a job, a wife, a child and a house would act like a sixth grader. Turns out he’s a bully. I ignored them and they eventually went back inside. Other times he would stand on the property line and make comments about us to his friends knowing we could hear him (again, houses really close). My husband would come home from work and I’d be in tears because of the stress and the harassment by the neighbor. Wish I’d been smart enough then to file a harassment suit. It was to the point that I went to the doctor to get meds for the pain in my stomach and I started having migraines which I’d never had before.

So my husband arranged a meeting with the guy and they hashed it out and came to an agreement that they would keep the dog in until around noon, at which time they would put him out until they got home from work. We both work so that would work OK, except for weekends. He also said if the dog was out barking and bothering us then we could call him and he will come and put him in. The owner works very close to where we live. He also made promises like he would take the dog to work, use a shock collar etc. Surprisingly, they did get a dog trainer to come and give the beast some manners. They had the trainer come and walk the dog during the lunch time too, leaving him inside when she was done. This only lasted as long as they had the dog trainer, once she was done the dog was out all afternoon/evening again. They also moved the couch away from the window and the barking while the dog was in decreased significantly. They still don't walk the dog or spend much time with him alone. In his life he is alone approx. 90% of the time. Why have a pet?

This started a two-year stretch of good behavior/bad behavior with the neighbor. He would keep the dog quiet as it suited him basically. The situation would work OK as long as we didn’t have to be home during the day, and IF someone came home to put the dog in by 5:30. During the summer, the dog could be out until 9pm. Weekends were a crap shoot, again, summer is the worst time because it is warm and stays light longer so the dog is out more. We lived with the situation until I had to be home on maternity leave this past summer. The neighbor said he would only put the dog out while he was home for lunch, which he did for about a week and then the time the dog was out crept longer and longer until he was just coming home for 2 minutes to throw the dog out and leave again. Thursday mornings, at 8 am he would put him out and drive away because his cleaning lady was there. So after being up all night with the baby, I couldn’t sleep in the morning. The first 2 months home with my first child turned into hell because of this selfish guy. My husband would come home to find me in tears because the dog was barking, I was exhausted and sick to my stomach from the stress. I would finally get the baby to sleep and the dog would bark and wake her. We talked to the humane society again and something called “Safe Streets Now”. Safe Streets Now said they could help but we’d have to go through the humane society policy of the multiple household/barking log thing or sue. They were proud of the fact that they had helped a woman get her neighbor’s dog silenced after 3 years of trying! I find it disgraceful that someone had to suffer that long. The only reason she was able to shut the dog up was because the neighbors finally agreed to help her. So she did it with the multiple household law, after 3 years! Why this doesn’t illustrate the current problem to the authorities is beyond me.

Where are we now? The neighbor found out we'd asked other neighbors if the noise bothered them and he went on a 30-minute tirade over the phone, hung up and texted my husband: "Deal with it or you can move". Apparently, the owner puts his "right to do whatever the hell he wants on his own land" before the welfare of a newborn. These days we are back to where we were before I had the baby except now we can't call and tell him the dog is bothering us. It is winter now so it’s not too bad, the dog has to come in by dark because it gets too cold for him. But I know in the summer he’ll be out barking until 9pm again. Baby goes to sleep at 7 and the barking is so loud it’s like the dog is in the house with us, so it wakes her. On weekends if the dog is out I have to take her to the LA Arboretum for her naps. If she is sick or day care is closed, we have to suffer through an afternoon of barking. I dread being in my own house and will do anything to avoid it if the dog is out. Compared to the stories of others, I guess we have it pretty good. But we shouldn’t have to settle for pretty good, we should be able to have peace in our own house and a baby that isn’t sleep deprived on the weekends.

That’s our story. Sorry it was so long. But this situation is why I started the web-site and petition. We had a city council person out to our house who said she would take our requests for change to the council if we could put it into writing. I sent her the ordinance from QuietArizona that was just passed in Arizona. She said she would have the attorney look it over, though where it goes from there I don’t know. She also said it would take years to change an ordinance and by then our dog will probably be dead and it won’t help us. My reply was that we need change for everyone, not just our situation. If it doesn’t help us, fine. But nobody should have to wait 3 years to get their life back. I want to facilitate change for the community, and hopefully if we can do it in Pasadena, we can get other cities to adopt it. I envision a Quiet Los Angeles that encompasses all of the different cities, kind of like Quiet Arizona has different counties with charter groups.


  1. The story outlined above is a classic example of a situation wherein an offence called "Leaving a Dog Unattended" would, if enforced, ensure the restoration of the peace to which every quiet-living person is absolutely entitled.

    Leaving a dog unattended is the prime cause of neighbourhood barking. Animal management experts call it "separation anxiety" because dogs, shighly socialised animal, bark and howl and whine their distress because they miss their "pack leader" - the owner.

    Interested persons are invited to sign Quiet Tasmania's online GoPetition that "Leaving a Dog Unattended" should be made an offence in all jurisdictions.

    It may be accessed here:

    and two similar petitions may be accessed here:

  2. I'm so glad, in a kind of sad way, that my wife are not alone. The neighbors dog has brought my wife to tears on numerous occasions. And like you, I made it a point to listen in the neighborhood we bought in before making the purchase. Nothing breaks my heart more than knowing we have worked so hard for what we have, and we are unable to enjoy it fully. Currently we are on our 3rd formal complaint to animal services.

    I am dedicating my evenings to finding us all out there, so we as a group can make changes everywhere. No one should have to go thru what you endured.

    I too started a blog site, Hopefully in time we can persuade enough people to band together to fight for all of our rights to live in peace in our own neighborhoods.