Never Ignore a Barking Dog
Dogs communicate their emotions by barking. Most dog owners can tell what their dog needs or wants by the tone and pitch of its bark. A barking dog can be a delight to its owner or a source of annoyance to neighbors.
The reasons a dog barks are to alert, to draw attention to something of interest, to greet, express unhappiness, or to communicate a physical need. The tone and pitch of a dog's bark can indicate whether it is happy, scared, lonely, sad, hungry, thirsty, or some other physical discomfort.
Animal cruelty investigators are taught that a barking dog may be the first sign of animal cruelty and neglect. This was the case in two tragic animal cruelty cases right here in Wayne County. The first happened a number of summers ago when a Newark woman moved to Geneva and decided that she no longer wanted her dog. She left the dog tied in the backyard of her former residence rather than take to an animal shelter. This dog was left without proper shelter from the hot sun, food, and water. Neighbors were disturbed by the dog's constant barking and complained to animal control. Unfortunately, by the time the animal control officer arrived on the scene, it was too late. The dog died of a combination of hunger and dehydration. What a slow painful way to die!
The second incident is more recent. Last winter during a long frigid cold spell neighbors in the town of Williamson complained of a barking dog. Here again, by the time animal control investigated the complaint, the dog froze to death and its dead body had to be pried out of the snow and ice. During necropsy by a local veterinarian if was confirmed that the dog froze to death and it was further revealed that the dog weighed ten pounds less than it should have for its age and particular breed.
The point is that both of these tragic endings could have been different if just one of the complaining neighbors stopped to investigate why the dog was barking and talked to the dog's owner. There is probably not a person alive that has not, at one time or another, been annoyed by a neighbor's barking dog. Unfortunately, our general reaction to a barking dog is to get mad at the dog.
The next time a barking dog disturbs your peace get involved! Yes, it is your business! Make an effort to go look at the dog and make sure there is a shelter with enough food and clean water. Make an effort to talk to owner calmly and rationally about the dog and his or her plans for the dog as well as proper care of the dog. If you suspect that the dog is being neglected and/or abused promptly call your local animal control officer, police or sheriff and explain the nature and urgency of the complaint. Follow up on your complaint and ask to be informed on the results of the investigation. Your prompt and compassionate involvement may alleviate the horrible sufferings of "Man's best friend," before it is too late.