Dog Barking Bill: Controversial bill in Delaware could force owners of loud dogs to pay up

Dog owners in Delaware could soon be forced to pay up if Fido doesn’t shut up.

You could say some dog owners at Wilmington’s Rockford Park are barking mad over new legislation targeting loud and nuisance dogs.

"I think it’s fairly ludicrous" said Beverly Debell of Greenville, who was busy walking her two Schipperkes named Nettie and Lilly. 

Last week, House Bill 124 passed the Delaware House and Senate. The proposal shifts enforcement of all animal control laws from local police to the Office of Animal Welfare.

It also creates monetary fines up to $150 for excessive barking. 

What is considered ‘excessive barking’?

Excessive barking is classified as barking for more than 15 minutes at a time or intermittently for 30 minutes or more.

"Whether we like it or not dogs bark" said Charley Hall, Mid Atlantic Manager of Government Relations with the American Kennel Club.

He says he’s concerned the bill doesn’t explain how Animal Control officers will enforce the issue.

"The bill doesn’t quite handle or look at all of the things that dogs could potentially bark for or about. Instead it turns it into a situation where it becomes a nuisance especially if I have an issue with my neighbor next to me who may not like the idea that I have a dog that may bark on occasion" said Hall.

There are many exceptions to the rule including animal shelters, vet clinics and pet stores. The civil penalties for excessive barking include first a warning. $50 dollars  for a second violation, $100 for third  and $150 for all violations after.  

"With our dogs we have a little bark collar if we don’t feel they are going to control themselves when we are not home or when we are home we put the bark control collars on" added Debell.

Annie Jablow sees both sides of the barking issue. Her dog "Leo" barks when someone comes to the door or loud noises. But says fining owners isn’t the answer.

"I see how you let your dog bark all night it could be annoying too. Pros and cons I guess but there a lot of things you can’t control especially if you are not home or something your dog is barking what are you going to do" says Jablow.

House Bill 124 now sits on Governor John Carney's desk. 

If signed into law, it would take one year to take effect.