A barking dog is an annoyance in any neighborhood. But what if the animal's incessant barking has caused you more than just annoyance? What if attempts to talk with the owners haven't gotten anywhere? Can you solve the problem in court? And what legal remedies might you seek? Here's a guide to the three main methods of resolving this common neighbor dispute.
Could you and your neighbor come to a mutually-beneficial agreement if a professional third party helped you talk? Then you may be able to get them to sit down for mediation. The threat of an expensive lawsuit is often a good motivator to get a hesitant party to come to the table and talk. The mediator doesn't resolve the issue for you. Rather, they guide two sides in finding a way to compromise and move forward.
2. Injunctive Relief
Most likely what you'll ask for from a civil court is what's known as injunctive relief. This is a court order which directs the other party to either take some action or cease doing something. In this case, the order would be to keep the dog quiet. Failure to follow the order would land the neighbor in contempt of court, which can result in fines and even jail time.
3. Financial Damages
There is one other remedy that you may or may not seek from the court. You may sue for financial damages to compensate you for financial losses. This is less common among residential neighbors because there aren't always financial losses to point to. Annoyance isn't a financial loss in itself, of course.
However, some situations can result in financial loss. For instance, if you rent out part of your home as a vacation rental but have lost business due to bad reviews over the barking dog, you have a case for damages. Similarly, if you've had to make structural changes to your home in order to try to deal with noise pollution, you may seek compensation.
Where to Start
Whether you've suffered financial damage or just continue to be frustrated at your neighbor's refusal to solve the problem, know that you can ask for relief from the court. But you'll need to take the right steps to secure the best outcome, avoid wasting money, and reduce stress. Start by meeting with an experienced civil law attorney in your state today. With their guidance, you'll find the right path to help.