Grounds for a Lawsuit Over a Barking Dog
In terms of legal theory, your most likely approach is to claim (and show evidence proving) that the dog is a nuisance that interferes with your use and enjoyment of your home.
Other types of claims are also possible, however, depending whether state or local law specifically addresses barking dogs.
Start gathering proof ahead of time. Youll need witnesses, photos, or other evidence that the dog is a nuisance or violates the law, as discussed below.
Before Suing a Neighbor Whose Dog Barks
Even if youre convinced a lawsuit is inevitable, try to negotiate with the dogs owner before moving ahead. For one thing, taking such steps might be a legal prerequisite toward filing suit.
A demand letter sent to your neighbor can be appropriate; its actually required in some states before you sue, but is always an excellent idea regardless. You would clearly state the nature of the problem and the action you expect from the neighbor, and mention that you will pursue legal remedies if the issue isnt taken care of.
Even if the letter doesnt bring results, its a good way to organize your thoughts and communicate your point of view. And once youre in court, it shows the judge that you tried to solve the problem without court.
The next step might be persuading the neighbor to join you in a mediation session.
Just make sure your efforts at negotiating dont cause you to miss the deadline for bringing suit. There is always a limit on how long you have to sue after an incident occurs. Usually, its a year or two.
How Much to Sue Your Neighbor For
How much money should you ask for in a barking-dog case? Youll have to put a dollar amount on the harm youve suffered.
There is no simple formula to translate annoyance into dollars. Start with your actual out-of-pocket losses—if the dog also rampages your yard, costs to replace a dead rose bush or damaged fence, for example. For less tangible losses like lost sleep or time spent cleaning up dog droppings, pick a small amount for each day. If youve been suffering for months, even a small amount, multiplied by all those days, can add up.
If you want to ask for more than your states small claims court limits, youll have to sue in regular court.
David Allen Legal Tuesday: Barking Dog Produces Lawsuit
You can report noise from a barking dog or other domestic animal. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) can only respond to complaints of animal noise in an attempt to enforce the NYC Noise Code.
DEP may take enforcement action if the noise can easily be heard from a residential address:
For DEP to respond to your noise complaint, you must provide the address where the animal is barking and your mailing address. Your information will not be shared with the animals owner.
If you are complaining about barking noise, DEP will send a letter about the noise to the dogs owner within 7 days of getting your complaint. The letter will include information explaining how to curb the dogs noise. If a letter is sent to the dogs owner, DEP will also send you a letter with instructions about how to follow up if the animal continues to be noisy.
If DEP has already sent letters to the dogs owner, or if your complaint is regarding noise from a domestic animal other than a dog, they may do a noise inspection.
If a violation of the NYC Noise Code is witnessed by DEP during their inspection, a summons may be issued.
If you’re a pet owner and you receive a warning letter from DEP, you can send questions, comments, or disputes to the mailing address provided in the letter or send an email to [email protected].
To report animal noise in a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) public housing building, go to the NYCHA Borough Management Office page.
DEP does not investigate noise from a wild animal. You can contact the New York State Department of Fish and Wildlife for assistance.