Court: Neighbor upset over dogs barking up wrong tree
Last Updated: 248 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS - One person's complaint about a neighbor's barking dog is not enough to show violation of Indianapolis' noise ordinance, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.
The case involved a dispute between two residents in which one repeatedly called animal control and police about their neighbor's barking dogs.
"It was awful," said Marilyn Moore, who filed the complaints against her neighbor. "I couldn't even talk on the phone when I was out in the yard."
According to court documents, Moore referred to the dog owners as "freeloaders" and "demented," and even installed surveillance cameras to document the dogs barking.
"At one point, this woman called me a homosexual because I was taping things, and I was like, 'Oh come on,'" Moore said.
But the court ruled that to show violation of the city's ordinance, multiple people would have to complain.
"In this case, we consider whether a pet owner with four barking dogs that annoy only one of his neighbors creates a sufficient nuisance to be in violation of a local noise ordinance," the ruling read. "We conclude that the plain, ordinary and usual meaning of the term 'persons' as used in the ordinance necessitates our holding that the complaints of just one neighbor are insufficient."
The court ruled that the dog complaints constituted a private nuisance rather than a public nuisance that disturbed multiple people.
Attorney Karen Celestino-Horseman, who represented the dog owner in this case, said the court's ruling will now keep one person from using the law as a weapon, which is what she said Moore was doing to her client.
Court documents said another neighbor had their dog "debarked" after Moore complained, but she said Moore continued to file complaints. The documents noted that Moore is "extremely anal retentive."
"I'm just a person who believes in doing the right thing, and I just cannot not report things that are cruel and abusive," Moore said.
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