It’s a given fact that dogs bark. Barking is part of their normal communication process and behavior. Sometimes dogs bark for appropriate and good reasons, such as when strangers approach their house. Most of us want our dogs to be "watch dogs" and alert us to anything unusual. But dogs can also bark inappropriately. Excessive barking deprives others of the comfortable enjoyment of their homes and can lead to neighborhood disputes. When the barking is loud, frequent and continues over a long period of time, it is legally defined as a “Public Nuisance”.
What to Do?
The first recommendation is to contact the dog owner directly and advise them there is a concern about barking. Often the owner is unaware that the dog is creating a disturbance. Leave them a NICE NOTE not a NASTYGRAM!!! Do not let your emotions get the better of you.
How to File a Barking Dog Complaint
- Provide as much information as possible regarding your complaint, such as dog owner’s name, address, description of dog, time and date of barking, and your contact information (name, address, phone number). Within 24-72 hours of receiving your complaint, VCAS will verify all information provided, check the license and vaccination status of all animals involved and send a letter to the dog’s owner/keeper. The complaining party is not named on the letter.
- The letter, which is typically hand-delivered by an Animal Control Officer, will state that a barking dog complaint had been received; explain the city’s ordinance regarding barking dogs, request voluntary compliance within 7 days, and state potential further enforcement steps that may be taken if the issue is not resolved. The officer will also speak with the owner and offer suggestions on how to resolve the barking issue.
- If the barking persists, you can contact VCAS a second time 10 working days after your first report and request a formal hearing process to declare the dog a “Public Nuisance”.
Process to Declare a Dog a Public Nuisance
We enforce local ordinances prohibiting the ownership or maintenance of animal nuisances in the unincorporated areas of Ventura County and in the cities of Ojai, Fillmore, Port Hueneme, Moorpark, Ventura, Camarillo and Simi Valley. The ordinances, while different in varying degrees, all address certain animal activities that can be construed as public nuisance behavior such as excessive barking, infliction of injury to a person or other animal, destruction of property and vicious or threatening behavior. Please read the ordinance for your jurisdiction in its entirety before proceeding further.
- After 10 days, if your barking dog problem continues, you can file a Public Nuisance Complaint. Contact the VCAS Complaint Desk at (805) 388-4341 extension 8893 and request a Public Nuisance Complaint packet. In order to proceed, adults from two or more residencies must be willing to sign the Public Nuisance Complaint.
- Along with submitting the Complaint form, you and your co-complainant(s) need to submit separate “bark” logs on which you have recorded dates and times of nuisance barking over a minimum 5 day period.
- Upon receipt of the completed Complaint Form and corresponding "barking" logs, a Hearing Notice will be sent or delivered to the owner/keeper of the alleged nuisance dog(s). This letter defines the public nuisance laws and notices the legal proceedings that are to follow, including the date, time and location of the hearing. Since this is a public hearing process, the owner/keeper of the animal is legally entitled to request copies of any documentation pertaining to the complaint.
The Co-complainants will also receive notice of the hearing date, time and location.
If any party in the action is unable to attend the hearing at the date/time scheduled, they should immediately contact the Department to request a postponement. Each party involved is granted one postponement.
At any time during the process, if the situation is resolved and a complainant wishes to withdraw his/her request for a hearing, please contact the Department immediately. The complaint will remain on file but inactive for a period of 1 year. Should the situation reappear, the complainant need only send in an updated barking log and a written request to reinstate his/her complaint. After one year, if we do not receive any further correspondence or complaints on the matter, the case will be considered closed and the files purged.
For Animal Nuisance Complaints other than Barking
Any animal, except an animal kept or controlled by a governmental agency, which has committed any one or more of any of the following acts is a public nuisance.
- An unprovoked infliction of physical injury upon any person where such person is conducting himself or herself lawfully.
- Unprovoked threatening behavior toward any person where such person is conducting himself or herself lawfully which occurs in such circumstances as to cause such person reasonably to fear for his or her physical safety.
- An unprovoked infliction of physical injury upon any other animal which occurs off the property of the owner or keeper of the animal inflicting the injury.
- The damaging of the real or personal property of some person other than the owner or keeper of the animal which occurs off the property of the owner or keeper of the animal.
- The dumping of trash cans or the spreading of trash which occurs off the property of the owner or keeper of the animal.
- The chasing of pedestrians, vehicles or ridden horses which occurs off the property of the owner or keeper of the chasing animal.