A judge decides when it’s one bark too many

05/02/2013 5:45 PM

05/20/2014 10:43 AM

The problem

When Richard Stevens of Kansas City got fed up with what he calls “continual barking” from his neighbor’s dog, he took his neighbor to municipal court. But the court found the neighbor not guilty of allowing excessive animal noise.

Stevens was frustrated with the decision because he thinks the dog was violating the city ordinance and doesn’t know how he could have made his case better.

The answer

The Watchdog is loath to get in the middle of court cases and is in no position to second-guess the outcome of this one. But being of the canine persuasion, he desperately wants to know just how obnoxious he can be.

City Prosecutor Lowell Gard was circumspect. He declined to comment on Stevens’ case but said the evidence presented and the ways that ordinances and case law are cited are up to the courtroom prosecutor working on the individual case.

“The decision is made based on the facts of the case as determined by the judge and applied and interpreted under the ordinance,” Gard said. “What constitutes ‘excessive’ barking under this ordinance is a determination made by the judge based on his assessment of what is fair, reasonable and just under the law and the facts of the case.”

But the Dog and his rowdy buddies find some comfort in the statistics that the city provided on dog barking prosecutions from 2012. There weren’t very many, and some defendants managed to get out of the doghouse.

Two, in fact, beat the rap. One defendant pleaded guilty, and one case was dismissed after the animal was removed. Three cases are pending, and an arrest warrant was issued for one defendant who didn’t show up in court.

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