Tampa considers stricter rules for barking dogs

- The City of Tampa might play copycat to silence barking dogs.

City leaders are looking at the possibility of making changes to the ordinance currently on the books and their influence could come from the county.

Thursday, city council members discussed Tampa's nuisance animal ordinance. Some members want it to more closely reflect the barking dogs ordinance on the books in Hillsborough County, where owners of such dogs can be fined up to $500 or go to jail for up to 60 days.

Dog owner Shari Callahan told FOX 13 News she knows all too well the pain of living next to someone who owns a noisy dog.

“It was annoying it kept me up all night,” said Callahan.

But even still she would not support a change in the city to crack down on barking dogs.

“Jail time that seems extreme,” she said.

Others like Frank Shryock think noisy dogs should definitely be dealt with, but the penalties to owners shouldn't go overboard.

“I think you should be able to control your dog,” said Shryock. “I don't like the yapping dogs.”

City officials say 83 percent of residents have pets, and those numbers are part of the reason city officials want to reform the ordinance to more specifically identify what a nuisance dog is.

In the county, a dog has to be constantly barking for at least 20 minutes to fit the violation. 

The county also requires whoever reports the noisy dog to give their name and fill out an online form.

The current rule in Tampa lets residents call police or code enforcement anonymously.

“Under the present ordinance it gives rise to vagueness, vagueness which can give rise to neighbor disputes,” said Councilman Luis Vera.

In 2017, there were 323 calls about barking dogs in Tampa, according to city officials. They feel any change would also be helping the noisy dogs who - they say - are sometimes the subject of threats.

"This is not only an issue of neighborhood harmony but potentially animal welfare,” said Vera.

The current penalty on the books for a barking dog owner within city limits would be anything from a warning up to a $450 fine.

City officials agreed on taking the issue up again at a workshop in March.

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