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March 7, 2014

Barking can bite at relationships among neighbors

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Many neighborhood feuds in the U.S. are caused by barking and parking. When it comes to barking, animal trainers say dogs are usually bored, scared or anxious, so they shouldn't be blamed for fights that involve their masters.

Incessant barking has stirred neighborhood violence and bred an industry of shock and sound devices decried as hurtful by some but hailed as solutions by their makers. Ultimately, owners need to take responsibility for devoting enough time to pet care, experts say. They urge people to get to the root of the problem before boredom, anxiety or fear turn into shredded bedspreads, puddles in the house or escape attempts. Make sure bored animals get plenty of exercise and find out what's upsetting them — maybe it's just a car's backfire.

"Barking definitely affects people's lives," said Sgt. Dustin Delridge, an officer for the Missoula, Mont., Police Department who deals with quality-of-life issues, such as barking. By the time he gets involved, bad feelings usually are brewing. Sometimes solutions are as simple as moving a kennel to the other side of a yard or asking an owner to keep a dog inside.

"Most of the time, we can come up with a solution," he said. "Once in a while, we can't make anybody happy."

So far, that includes Gary Garrett, who's losing sleep as three Rottweilers howl through the night in his neighborhood in Visalia, about 200 miles north of Los Angeles. He says the sound penetrates his walls like "blow horns or subwoofers." He visited his neighbor when it started six months ago, and she told him to get earplugs.

Garrett is also upset with animal control and the city. Animal control needs to hear the barking to take action, but he says representatives come during the day and the barking happens at night.

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