A woman in Phoenix, AZ. has been fined $940 and sentenced to three years probation for her barking dogs.
Reness Maurer's neighbors had filed a petition earlier in the year to have her prosecuted for allowing her dogs to bark non-stop over three years.
Municipal Court Judge Cynthia Certa told Maurer that she is not required to report to a probation officer, and the $940 will be reduced to $296 if the terms of her probation are completed successfully after the three years.
Other conditions of the probation included keeping Corky and Koo-Boosh, Maurer's two dogs, inside when she leaves, and putting bark collars on the dogs if they are outside for longer than 15 minutes.
Maurer said she was disappointed about the sentencing and about her neighbors.
"I feel ostracized in my own community," said Maurer, adding that neighborhood relations will now be "extremely awkward and uncomfortable."
I realize how annoying incessant barking can be, it's happened before in our neighborhood. After a while it can start to drive you a bit nutty. Maurer has two small dogs that are obviously not outside dogs, she should not be leaving them there for hours on end. As a pet owner she needs to take responsibility for her dogs and deal with the problem.
However, the real reason I posted this wasn't because of the barking issue but because of the penalty. The maximum sentence for violating the city's barking-dog ordinance is six months in jail, a $2,500 fine and a misdemeanor charge.
Over the last few months I have posted numerous stories on animal abusers and time after time they get a slap on the wrist. If you do something that affects a person, like disturbing the peace, the penalty is actually harsher than for animal cruelty in some states. It sends a clear message that it's alright to kill or torture an animal because it still isn't taken seriously in our justice system.
It's a sad statement on society when a barking dog disturbing a person takes precedence over someone killing a dog. There's something wrong with this picture. Why is the penalty so harsh? It is a law meant to protect people, their right to peace, not animals. It just goes to show, once again, laws need to change if we are ever to see justice for animals.