The Atlanta City Council has passed an ordinance that says dogs barking consistently for 10 or more minutes can be classified as a nuisance with their owners potentially facing up to $1,000 in fines.

The Atlanta City Council on Sept. 19 approved an ordinance to amend its “nuisance animals” law that allows the time a dog can persistently bark before the city steps in to stop the noise.

No longer can a dog bark for 20 or more minutes, as allowed since 2018, before the city can impose a monetary fine. Now dogs only have 10 minutes or longer to howl before their owners’ face trouble from the city. Owners of long-winded woofers face a $150 fine for a first-time violation; $250 for a second violation; $350 for a third violation; $500 for a fourth violation; and $1,000 for all other violations, according to the ordinance.

The former 20-minute or longer limit was unreasonable and difficult to enforce by animal control or other law enforcement officers, according to the legislation sponsored by Councilmember Dustin Hillis. 

The new ordinance doesn’t just hound owners of yapping pups. It states, “It shall be unlawful for the owner, or any person having temporary custody or control, of an animal or animals to allow or fail to restrain the animal(s) from barking, meowing, whining, crowing, or making other sounds common to the species, persistently or continuously for a period of 10 minutes or longer when every animal is not contained within an enclosure sufficient to baffle loud noises and render them reasonably unobjectionable.”

Those making a complaint about a loud must live or work within a 1,000-foot radius of the property where the violation occurred, according to the ordinance. A complaint will be accepted when either the animal control officer or sworn law enforcement has received, from at least two unrelated adult witnesses living at different addresses, or from one adult witness with a recorded video showing the alleged violation.

The nuisance animal ordinance does not apply to any animal shelter operated by or under contract for the state, Fulton or DeKalb Counties, or the city of Atlanta. It also does not apply to veterinary hospitals or clinics; or to any facility owned, operated or maintained by an incorporated humane society, welfare society, or other nonprofit organization whose mission is for the humane treatment of animals. 

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Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.