Police in Hawaii can now issue barking tickets… to dog owners who can't keep their pets quiet
Dog owners in Hawaii are turning to pet psychologists to save their animals from a draconian new law that makes 'incessant barking' an offence.
Hawaii's Big Island may boast idyllic scenery but it is overrun by pet dogs and the noise has prompted officials to take drastic action against repeat offenders.
Police can now write barking tickets, fine noisy dog owners hundreds of dollars and even remove an uncontrollable yapper to a dog pound.
Following surging complaints from angry neighbours, the law in Hawaii County is quite specific on noisy dogs, banning 'barks, bays, cries, howls' that go on continuously for ten minutes or intermittently for 20 minutes within a half hour.
The law still allows for a dog to bark over the allotted time limits if its owner is being attacked.
Some owners have complained that the new law infringes their rights but neighbours counter that 24-hour barking is such a problem that they have to run fans next to their heads at night just to get to sleep.
Owners whose dogs fall foul of the law have been allowed to get professional help as a part of a plea deal to ensure they can hang on to their animals.
Experts such as Carl Oguss, who runs the East Hawaii Dog Psychology Centre, are now offering classes in 'dog whispering' where he teaches owners to make more effort to try to understand their troubled canines.
Mr Oguss, a retired psychology professor, teaches that endless barking is often a result of dogs getting bored or of owners failing to communicate in a way their dogs can understand.
He encourages owners to take their dogs on 'play dates' with other dogs to make their day more interesting and cut down the tendency to bark just for something to do.
'You have to focus on the cause as well as how to correct the symptoms,' he said of incessant barkers.
'In most cases, they don't really need a therapist to come to their house. [Owners] just need a little better information about communication and mutual respect with a dog.'
Other parts of the U.S. are cracking down on dog barking including Los Angeles, which last year imposed a law imposing fines of as much as £630 ($1,000). As in Hawaii, a few towns have set a time limit as to how long a dog can bark before it is breaking the law.
But local officials stress that Hawaii's largest island has a particular nightmare with noisy dogs. People there use dogs to hunt wild pigs and many people own at least five and some as many as 30.
Source: Daily Mail