Fighting for You: Madison County Homeowner Calls Dog Barks Bothersome

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Many of us have heard the phrase the dog's bark is worse than its bite. Homeowners in one Madison County community believe it. They say the dogs at a nearby animal hospital bark most of the day. They want the barking to stop. One of the homeowners emailed WHNT NEWS 19.

There are rules in place for handling noise, but the homeowner wonder why the rules are not enforced.

The Madison County homeowner lives a few yards away from the Flint River Animal Hospital. The animal hospital is in Huntsville. Davis Thuss says no one in the city or county can figure out how the rules apply in an area split between two jurisdictions. Thuss continues to hear the barks. He wants someone to silence the dogs.

Thuss' home is in the Bridges on the River community.

"It's basically a nice community. I mean, it is a relatively nice community," said Thuss.

Thuss has an issue with what's coming from his neighbor's property.

"As you can hear, with the animal hospital down the street, we get a lot of noise from the dogs," added Thuss.

Thuss used a home video to record the barks and shared the video with WHNT NEWS 19.

"Even trying to sit on the back porch, at times, the noise is just a solid cacophony of irritating noise," added Thuss.

The long-time homeowner told WHNT NEWS 19 staff at the animal hospital puts the dogs outside at 7:00 am and brings them inside in the evening. A berm separates the animal hospital from Bridges on the River homeowners, but doesn't keep the noise away from the homeowners' ears.

"Even when the trees are in full leaf and the winds are blowing out of the southwest, like it predominately does, that noise just travels right down the berm," added Thuss.

Thuss and his neighbors have complained to the city of Huntsville, Madison County and local animal control agencies.

"Everybody concerned is trying to blame the other or pass the buck because of the situation with the annexing," added Thuss.

The animal hospital property is on land annexed by Huntsville, so follows ordinances set by the city.

"It's annoying. I mean, the city has laws against dog barking. Yet, it is a city annexed parcel and the laws don't apply," added Thuss.

Item 11 on page 8 of the city's noise ordinance exempts animals.

Thuss, who considers himself a pet owner, is out of luck with Huntsville silencing the dogs. WHNT NEWS 19 went to the animal hospital to tell its owner about Thuss concern.

"I'd like to see them try to control the dog barking. Most of us along here are pet owners or have been pet owners. We don't object to the dogs being there. It is in fact the noise," added Thuss.

The owner was not in the office, but emailed WHNT NEWS 19 a statement:

"Flint River Animal Hospital offers a valuable service to our clients to meet their growing needs for pet boarding and doggy day care at the "Bed N' Biscuit". Our indoor only boarding facility closes at 6:00 pm. Dogs are allowed outside for specified periods of play during the hours of 7:00 am to 5:30pm during weekdays. On weekend days dogs are tended outside for specified periods in the morning and afternoon for supervised exercise and play while kennel technicians clean and perform housekeeping. The dogs at play are always supervised by a trained staff member and no dogs are outside after 5:30 pm.  After closing, the boarding dogs quickly settle down and are quiet until opening the next day.

We have worked closely with the Huntsville City Zoning and Ordinance to ensure that we are operating our veterinary/boarding facility within the established legal regulations and guidelines. We are sensitive to noise issues and work closely with Dr. Karen Shepherd-Hill, Director of Huntsville Animal Services, to establish protocols to reduce natural canine behaviors that can lead to barking for many reasons including play, excitement, invitation to play, boredom, frustration, loneliness, separation anxiety, attention seeking, trained to bark by owner, territorialism, compulsion, want back inside, and/or unfamiliar environment.  We have a large growing client base who use our services, so the total number and mixture of boarding and day care dogs and behaviors  that interact differs every day.

Client feedback indicates that our services are desirable because their dogs are well cared for, get supervised play outside, and are socialized with other dogs rather than sitting in a cage all day except for potty breaks.  We are aware that dogs at play and for other reasons will bark. We continually work with the City of Huntsville and Huntsville Animal Services to establish best practice protocols to reduce canine barking to act as good neighbors."

WHNT NEWS 19 learned Madison County has a noise resolution, but it does not address animals.

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