German dogs face rules on barking
Saturday 29 July 1995
Henceforth dogs which bark for more than 10 minutes non-stop or over half-an-hour a day can be reported to the authorities - and ordered to dog-training school. A similar fate awaits those that whine, growl or simply whimper between the sacred hours of 1-3pm or 10pm - 6am.
The new regulations have been set down in the latest edition of Das Haus, a monthly magazine covering all aspects of homes, gardens and neighbourly disputes. The magazine draws on a court ruling in Cologne in which the precise length of time dogs are allowed to bark without risk of punishment was meticulously defined.
In that particular case a dog owner was ordered to take his pet to a training school after an infuriated neighbour complained about its incessant noise.
Many more cases are expected. Since publishing its article, Das Haus has been flooded with requests from dog-owners and dog-haters alike for copies of all relevant legal rulings. "It is very sad to think that something as banal as barking dogs have become a matter for the courts but, unfortunately, that is the tendency here now," said a spokeswoman for the magazine, Anette Bongartz. "Rather than talking problems over with their neighbours more and more people prefer to take legal action against them."
In a country where dogs are favoured pets and where the fetish for regulation even covers things such as the times at which lawn-mowing is permitted, the Cologne court ruling has been greeted with derision by many.
"It is ridiculous to set precise rules governing when dogs can and cannot bark," said a spokesman for the Berlin Animal Protection Association. "Of course unruly dogs need training, but that should not be a matter for the courts."
However, the German Watchdog Society is to challenge the ruling on the grounds that it infringes on an even greater national right - that of being able to protect one's property.
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