BATTLE GROUND, Wash. – Imagine listening to a pack of dogs constantly barking just feet from your window.
For some Clark County residents, that’s a daily reality.
Although noise ordinances and nuisance laws are in place, neighbors in Battle Ground said those laws are not being enforced.
Deanna Maio lives next door to the dogs in question.
“Oh it's way worse than this, this is very rare that it’s this quiet,” she said, as she stood in her backyard listened to the dogs barking.
For Maio, living in the country next to her neighbors who own the dogs is hardly peaceful and quiet.
“We have to live near each other, the least they could do is at least show some kind of consideration for everybody else, but they just haven't,” she said.
About 50 feet from her bedroom window, right next to her fence line, are her neighbors’ Rottweilers.
She said she has trouble sleeping, doesn’t go outside much and the dogs’ owners, her neighbors, have not helped.
Other neighbors agree. Some have kept a ledger of all the times the dogs bark and howl. Together, they have filed complaints with the Clark County Animal Control Department and the Code Enforcement Division.
The response they got back surprised them.
“Clark County Animal Control will not enforce the law,” Maio said, even though the noise seems to break nuisance and noise violation laws.
Clark County law states that a public nuisance is defined as “any animal that howls, yelps, barks or makes other noises that disturbs a person or a neighborhood to an unreasonable degree.”
Additionally, a public noise violation is defined as “frequent, repetitive or continuous howling, barking, squawking or other noises which unreasonably disturbs or interferes with the peace, comfort and repose of property owners or possessors.”
So why isn’t anything being done to enforce these laws?
“We're going to keep track of those violations, but we'll only actually cite them if at some point your kennel application is denied or you pull your application,” said Paul Scarpelli, the manager of Animal Control, Code Enforcement and Finance for Clark County.
He said he can’t enforce the noise and nuisance laws because the dogs’ owners have applied for a kennel license and because there’s a new kennel code.
While that application is being considered and reviewed, no laws concerning noise or nuisance will be enforced.
“We will continue to have a conversation with the kennel applicant, the dog owners, saying, ‘Look, you’re not really doing yourself any favors here. Please try to be a better neighbor.’ Beyond that, there’s really not a whole lot I can do,” Scarpelli said.
Deanna Maio thinks that’s unreasonable.
“So that means that just anybody could apply for the license and wait and see... and break the law until then,” she said.
Scarpelli said if the kennel application is denied by the county, or pulled by the applicants, all those complaints will be acted upon, and he said the neighbors should continue to file their complaints.
The dogs’ owner, Kelly Shipman of Von Shipman Rottweilers, would not let Unit 8 on her property but she did tell us in a phone conversation they are following the laws and legally going through the application process to get a kennel license.
Clark County officials said when that application is approved or denied, and only then, they can enforce the laws to deal with the barking and howling.