Keeping a dog
In this second series of topics educating communities and creating awareness about local municipal by-laws, I want us to talk about dogs and the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department’s (EMPD) Municipal By-Laws governing dog ownership in a residential area.
In terms of the EMPD By-Law Regulations and Enforcement Division, no person shall keep any dog which may disrupt public peace or cause any annoyance.
• Chronic barking, which is also a major cause of friction between neighbours. Continuous barking disturbs the peace and is a threat to public health.
• To most families, a dog is the first line of defence, others find dogs to be a nuisance and noise polluters.
What to do if your neighbour’s dog barks continuously
Firstly, there are certain legal steps you can take against the owner of a dog or dogs that bark in such a manner that their barking affects your quality of life in the following ways:
• Keeps you or your family constantly awake at night or any time of the day.
• When the barking is so loud and continuous that it disturbs the peace of others.
• When you believe the safety of your family is in danger because of the barking.
In terms of the EMPD by-laws, should the owner of the dog refuse to take responsibility for the dogs, the owner will be viewed as a perpetrator. Section 10 addresses the barking related to by-laws and informs the victim how the legal system operates.
Dog barking by-laws
Different local governments in towns and cities are regulated by different barking ordinances, but the system is similar in most cities.
The enforcement of Noise Ordinance Law Enforcement Agencies is that they must always keep the owners of dogs aware of their obligations and rights. Rights are also accorded to any member of the public who may be a complainant against a dog owner.
Laying a complaint
• Write complaints about the dog and place a note in the post box of the dog owner.
• Backup your complaint before contacting law enforcement.
• Talk to all your neighbours to check if your complaint is genuine.
• If barking continues, approach the owner for a solution to the problem.
• Make legal threats to the dog owner with lawyers and the police.
• Suggest solutions to the barking problem.
• Give the dog owner your reasons for your concerns, eg a sickly elderly person or a child; someone in the family studying; or general sleep disturbance.
Avoid legal run around
If you receive a complaint in your post box from your neighbour, take it seriously. Do not wait until the EMPD by-laws officers arrive at your door. By the time that happens, the legal ball may already be rolling.
Steps to be followed once the EMPD By-Laws Enforcement Team receives a complaint:
• The offending dog owner will be visited.
• A written notice will be issued in conjunction with the K9 Unit.
• In Terms of Act 26 of 200, regarding the disclosure of information, must be strictly adhered to by professional law enforcement officers as the members of the public should have confidence in disclosing wrongdoing without any fear or victimisation.
• If the barking still persists after 10 to 14 days, a fine of R250 may be imposed or disputed in a court of law.
• Should the fine not be paid or no appearance in court is made, summonses may be issued, then only a magistrate will decide if the dog needs to be removed from the home by the SPCA or take any recommended action by the court.
Dogs in Public Places
According to Municipal By-Law of Section 16(1) of the Council By-Laws Public Order under Notice 83 of the Provincial Gazette:
• No person may bring a dog into a public place unless it is kept under the control of the owner.
• Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with this provision will be guilty of an offence and be liable to be convicted of a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.