New Jersey town may fine, jail owners up to 90 days for barking dogs

Your dog's bark could end up biting you in the wallet in one New Jersey town -- or even worse -- if an ordinance is passed later this month.

The borough of Saddle River is revising an ordinance against dog barking, prohibiting "loud, frequent or habitual continuous barking, howling or yelping" for more than 20 minutes between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. or for more than 15 minutes between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. every night.

"'Continuous' is defined as uninterrupted, unbroken not intermittent or occasional, so persistently repeated at short intervals as to constitute virtually an unbroken series," the ordinance states.

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Saddle River Borough Administrator Jerry Giaimis told NJ.com there was one incident in particular -- about which he wouldn't elaborate -- that prompted the change and showed the existing ordinance "wasn't enforceable."

Violators of the amended law are subject to a fine of up to $1,000, up to 90 days in jail or up to 90 days of community service. The administrator of the borough located northwest of New York City said that there are "probably 200 towns in New Jersey" that use similar penalties

“I think the ordinance definitely provides clarification, but to be clear we do not have a barking dog epidemic here in Saddle River,” Giaimis told News 12 New Jersey. "I have, since the introduction of this ordinance, not received one phone call from anybody in town. Every now and then when an issue comes before us and we realize we need to change an ordinance and make it better, we do that."

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A judge in each case would ultimately make the decision on the penalty to violators.

Saddle River Police Chief Jason Cosgriff told CBS2 his department receives complaints "from time to time."

"Sometimes it is nuisance barking or sometimes the dogs are just doing their job," he told CBS2. "They may be barking at another animal or a person."

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The new proposal also holds owners responsible if their dogs trespass or damage another person's property. The borough's council is set to vote on the measure March 18 after it is debated in a public hearing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.