3 Barking Dogs at NJ Mansion Cause a Ruckus

Neighbors keep complaining, so Saddle River might define 'excessive barking'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2019 9:02 AM CDT
'It Feels Ridiculous': NJ Suburb to Crack Down on Barking
A German shepherd runs with a ball while playing with his owner in Bridgeton, NJ, on April 15, 2014.   (Cindy Hepner /Gloucester County Times via AP)

What constitutes excessive barking? A wealthy New Jersey suburb may soon be able to tell you. Saddle River, one of many municipalities to ban excessive noise by dogs, will soon vote on whether to define what that means: A proposed ordinance would forbid continuous barking or yelping over 20 minutes between 7am and 10pm, or over 15 minutes any other time of day, with fines ranging from $100 to $1,000, reports the New York Times. The proposal comes after multiple complaints to police about dogs belonging to the doctor who now lives in the mansion formerly owned by Russell Simmons. "All I know is, it is my right to have dogs, and dogs bark," says owner William Focazio, who has received at least seven summonses over the last year in relation to his two German shepherds and Belgian shepherd.

He says the dogs, including a police-trained K-9, were purchased for protection following a break-in, but are sweet, and only bark when there's a visitor or intruder. "They don't moo," he quips to the Times. The neighbor who lives behind Focazio counters that family members are roused from their sleep at all hours by barking. At NPR, Steve Inskeep quipped that the suburb should be sure to consider "some fine points" of the proposed ordinance. "What if you don't like your neighbors, so you train your dog to bark exactly 19 minutes, then briefly pause?" In terms of Focazio's dogs, the whole situation might ultimately be moot: Per the Times, his 20,000-square-foot home is on the market for $14.75 million. Meanwhile, Tucson Weekly reports Oro Valley, Ariz., recently cracked down on excessive animal noise after a similar dispute. (More New Jersey stories.)

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