What you need to do:
Prior to us commencing any barking dog investigation, we require the person(s) affected to have undertaken certain actions including:
- Reading all information concerning barking dogs as contained on our website.
- Attempted to resolve the situation by raising the issue with the dog owner and seeking the assistance of a Community Justice Centre to mediate with the dog owner on your behalf. The owners may not be aware the dog is barking particularly if it’s only doing it when they are out.
- Be courteous - sometimes they may not know how to go about fixing the problem so be prepared to assist with information
- Be specific - tell your neighbour if the dog is barking at certain times or at certain things and give them an opportunity to correct the problem.
- Record their complaint in writing outlining what action they have taken so far, the frequency and length of time that the dog barks.
We will not commence any investigation until these actions have been completed.
What we will do:
- Upon receipt of a written complaint about a nuisance (barking) dog, City of Newcastle's Regulatory Services Unit will assess the information provided to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to commence an investigation. If we determine the evidence submitted is not adequate and does not demonstrate the dog barks to a frequency or length of time where the community is significantly impacted, then no further action will be taken. If there is sufficient evidence an investigation will commence.
- A letter will be sent to the dog owner advising a complaint has been received and the owner will be provided with 28 days to rectify the situation.
- If the problem is not resolved, we will send an evidence form and noise diaries to at least eight residences in the neighbourhood to gain information about where the barking dog resides, the times and frequency the dog barks and what impact it has upon other neighbours. The noise diary is to be completed over a 14 day period and returned to us within 21 days.
- Note: The evidence form and noise diaries must be completed and signed by the person/s completing the forms. If sufficient evidence is not contained in these documents the ability for us to take further action is limited. The documents will assist City of Newcastle determining what action to take and can be used in legal proceedings.
- We review all evidence forms and noise diaries. City of Newcastle requires a minimum of three completed and signed evidence forms and noise diaries to take any enforcement action. We require this number of complaints to prevent unsubstantiated, vexatious or pay back complaints, and we consider multiple complainants and consistent evidence confirms the legitimacy of complaints and the impact felt within the community. If the evidence returned does not demonstrate a frequent or lengthy impact upon the community or there are less than three complainants, we will not take any further action.
- If sufficient evidence is received, a City of Newcastle Ranger will obtain a statement from each complainant.
- We will then determine what the appropriate enforcement that should be taken will be. This may include issuing the owner of the dog with a 'Nuisance Dog Order' in accordance with Section 32B of the Companion Animals Act 1998 or a 'Noise Abatement Direction' issued in accordance with Section 276 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.
- If the barking persists, contact us and arrangements will be made for a Ranger to obtain a statement including evidence about the breach of the Order or Direction.
- Once statements have been obtained City of Newcastle will assess the evidence and determine what enforcement action can and will be taken.
Issues to consider
We require significant evidence to support and authenticate an allegation and to justify issuing any form of legal process. Any legal process or enforcement action initiated by us can be contested and appealed by the person to whom the legal process is against. We must comply with specific rules relating to the collection of evidence and commencement of legal proceedings. We must also be able to produce relevant evidence to justify decisions and action taken to a standard accepted by the Court.
- A person's identity may be disclosed if our decisions are defended before a Court.
- A person's identity may also be disclosed if a request is made under Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.
- Nuisance Dog Orders expire after six months.
- Noise Abatement Directions expire after 28 days