The small town of Feuquières, in Northern France, has placed a €68 fine (about $77) on the owners of dogs who exhibit "prolonged or repeated barking" that "disturbs the rest or relaxation" of the town. Dogs who bark excessively must be kept inside, and are not allowed to be kept in enclosed spaces without their owners being nearby to quell loud barking.
The move comes in response to repeated incidents of dogs barking "all day and night" which has created an "unbearable situation" in the town, Feuquières Mayor Jean-Pierre Estienne said, according to BBC.
The new decree is largely based on consistent complaints against one of Feuquières' 1,400 residents. The woman reportedly has several large dogs, and has refused to cooperate with the city council about the disruption her dogs have caused.
Animal rights groups have spoken out in response to the new rule, arguing that dogs shouldn't be punished for exercising their natural responses.
Stéphane Lamart, president of the Association for the Defence of Animal Rights, said that he is planning to organize an appeal of the new decree.
"You may as well stop church bells ringing on Sunday morning," Lamart told Le Monde newspaper, in French. "If dogs have mouths, it's so they can bark."
Despite the blowback, Mayor Estienne has stood by the ruling and promises that the fines will only be enforced in extreme circumstances.
"The aim is not to ban dogs and we won't be fining people for the slightest hint of a yap," Mr Estienne told French newspaper Le Parisien. "The town has nothing against dogs but when you decide to have them, you educate them."