Borough Seeks To Muzzle Noisy Dogs
MOUNT EPHRAIM, N.J. (AP) _ The dog days of summer have taken on new meaning in this bedroom community thanks to a proposed ordinance that could cost pet owners $500 if their pooches don’t keep quiet.
″If people can’t control their dogs, they should be fined,″ dog owner Frank Jankowski said Tuesday. ″But $500, that’s a little harsh. That’s what a dog is for - to bark at strangers.″
Jankowski’s 7-year-old Labrador retriever, Tugger, declined to comment.
Some of the community’s 4,895 residents, especially those who live with the 500 canines licensed last year, have a bone to pick with the ban.
The proposal would make it illegal for a dog to bark for more than 10 minutes straight or 30 minutes intermittently. A maximum fine of $500 would be imposed.
A public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 7, after which borough commissioners are expected to vote.
″We have some residents who have been annoyed with continual barking,″ said borough clerk Catherine Pepe. ″But we also have a lot of dog owners around here. I don’t know what’s going to come about.″
Police Chief Edward Dobleman doesn’t own a dog, but he said he’s not in favor of the plan. Dobleman said he’s not amused by the thought of sending his 10-man force out on muzzle duty.
″We really have a lot more to do than handle barking dogs,″ he said.
The police department receives a handful of barking-dog complaints each month, he said.
″It’s usually late at night. We usually just wake up the owner and ask him to take the dog inside,″ he said.
Borough Commissioner Stanley Alcavage has said the ban is aimed at negligent owners.
Mayor Willaim Bradford said the proposal came about after one resident complained for more than a year about barking dogs in her neighborhood.
″A barking dog annoys me,″ he said. ″I known how these people feel.″
Mount Ephraim would be the first southern New Jersey community to slap such a high fine on errant dog owners, said Bert Wolfe, a spokesman for the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. Two communities in the northern part of the state, Oakland Borough and North Caldwell Township, also impose a maximum $500 fine for excessive barking, Wolfe said.
Marie Joseph said her neighbors never have complained when her beagle, Champ, or her son’s Doberman pinscher start woofing around.
″In fact, they prefer we leave the dogs outside at night so they’ll know if someone is coming,″ she said.
Neither Mrs. Joseph nor Jankowski think their pets will violate the ordinance if it is passed.