Casco to put more teeth into barking dog law

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer
CASCO — Town officials would like to see amendments to the current barking dog ordinance that would give it some real teeth.
In fact, an amendment to the existing ordinance is one of the reasons that the Casco Board of Selectmen rescheduled the Special Town Meeting from mid-January to the evening of Feb. 26, which falls on a Wednesday.
According to Town Manager Dave Morton, this will give the selectmen more time to put a stamp of approval on the changes. Also, it gives the voting public more time to learn about those changes prior to the Special Town Meeting, which is seven weeks away.
On Tuesday night, the board approved the new date for the Special Town Meeting.
The language of the amendment is still being revised, Morton said. Currently, the town attorney is reviewing those revisions — some of which were suggested by Animal Control Officer (ACO) Jessica Jackson.
The town’s barking dog ordinance states that a dog cannot bark for more than 30 minutes straight. However, the current monetary penalties against the pet owners do not always illicit change in the behavior of the dogs.
Essentially, the proposed amendment creates a “provision for stiffer fines and recovering attorney’s fees,” should the case go to court, Morton said.
The need for a barking dog ordinance with some bite to it developed after numerous complaints over the years about baying hound dogs tied behind a house off Helen Allen Avenue, which is located off Quaker Ridge Road.
Bluetick coonhound is the breed of the dogs that live at this location. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) website, this breed “gets its name from a coat pattern, which is dark blue in color, and covered in a ticking or mottled pattern.” This breed has “skill in trailing and treeing raccoons and other small animals,” according to the AKC web page.
“Blueticks are known for having the typical coonhound ‘bawling’ bark,” the website said.
The complaints about the coonhounds on Helen Allen Avenue have already cost the town money, Morton said. Those costs could be calculated as time on the clock and miles driven by the ACO, he said.
A few months ago, the board decided not to take the pet owner to civil court, especially since that would constitute as an additional cost to the town’s taxpayers, Morton said.
“The District Attorney (DA) is willing to prosecute the barking dog case on Helen Allen Avenue,” Morton told the board on Tuesday. “The DA’s office covers the cost for the prosecution. We all pay as taxpayers through our county taxes,” he said. “The DA’s office is geared toward this type of prosecution,” Morton said.
“Justice is being served, and we are working things out,” he said.
“The problem continues. I don’t know how many additional calls we have had,” he said.
“Really, the easiest thing is for people to voluntarily comply” with the barking dog ordinance, Morton said.
It is a state law to license each and every dog with the town in which the owner lives. Maine state law also requires certain inoculations to obtain a dog license. Additionally, it is state — not local — law that forbids owners from allowing dogs to run free without supervision or a means to control the dog with a command.
“Barking is one (rule) that the town decides upon,” Morton said.
“The state did exempt certain dogs such as agriculture herding dogs and agricultural protection dogs,” he said.
The owners claimed the hounds were protecting the chickens. That did not serve as grounds for an exception from the barking dog ordinance, Morton said.

Please follow and like us: