Council Revises Law on Nuisance Animal Noise
Clarifies that animal noise complaints are handled by city police
The Elkins council has revised city law concerning nuisance noise caused by animals. The new law, which is enforced by the Elkins Police Department (EPD), is effective immediately.
Ordinance 307, approved on final reading November 3, amends Elkins City Code §90.30. (The language in the city’s online code will be updated soon.) The previous language focused only on dogs and prohibited allowing them “to bark or howl continuously for more than 15 consecutive minutes.” After internal and external feedback concerning the difficulty of enforcing this, as well as the need for this section to address the nuisance noise of other kinds of animals, new language was drafted by the city attorney at the request of council’s Rules & Ordinances Committee.
As revised, Elkins City Code §90.30 now states that “no person shall keep or harbor any dog, cat or other animal within the City which, by frequent and habitual barking, howling, yelping, crying or squalling creates unreasonably loud and disturbing noises of such character, intensity and duration as to disturb the peace, quiet and good order of the City.”
Those cited under the new law are subject to fines established from time to time by council via resolution and, as such, not listed in the online code, as authorized in §90.99. The maximum fine established by council for an offense under this section is currently $100.
EPD Chief Travis Bennett explains that, although enforcement actions under the new language will depend on officer judgement and discretion, this is no different from many other provisions of city and state law.
“This new language is similar to the language in city code about breach of peace,” says Bennett. “One of the offenses in that section is when a person is making unreasonably loud noise, and that’s a judgement call, too. I have faith that my officers will be able to make good decisions about when to issue citations and when to try to address the situation through education and warnings instead.”
Officials also want to clear up confusion about where to direct reports of nuisance animal noise. It should be considered a police matter, according to Bennett.
“This ordinance is enforced by city police,” says Chief Bennett. “Loud barking is really no different from a loud party that is keeping neighbors from enjoying their property and should be reported to my department so an officer can go out and evaluate the situation.”
Those wishing to report nuisance animal noise can call EPD directly during business hours or 911 after hours. EPD can be reached at 304-636-0678 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Access Elkins City Code directly: www.codelibrary.amlegal.com/codes/elkinswv/latest/overview
Learn more about local and state laws and codes governing Elkins: www.cityofelkinswv.com/government/elkins-city-code
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