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Government

City Of Wichita Changes How Complaints Over Barking Dogs Can Be Filed

barking_dog_flickr.jpg
Nan Palmero
/
flickr Creative Commons

The City of Wichita will no longer allow residents to file their own complaints to report noisy dogs.

City Council members approved the amendment at their meeting Tuesday.

Assistant City Attorney Jan Jarman said the change to the city's animal control ordinance is a small one: Residents used to be able to file a charge with no review or oversight from law enforcement, including Animal Control.

Jarman said the ordinance put prosecutors in the position of pursuing complaints where there was no evidence available.

“And that gives prosecutors heartburn because you could lose your law license if you’re charging a case and you’re prosecuting a case where there’s no probable cause," she said.

Under the amended ordinance, a resident calling in about a noisy dog will be advised on how to collect evidence—such as a recording or a log of incidents. An Animal Control supervisor will then investigate the issue.

“And the benefit of having a prosecutor or an officer look at these cases first is we can help a citizen build a stronger case," Jarman said.

She said requiring complaints to go through law enforcement also allows for the opportunity to resolve an issue without ever bringing about charges.

"Maybe we can avoid charges altogether," she said, "by getting a mediator involved, getting the community police officer involved. ...The biggest goal we have would be to diffuse the situation."

City Council members also approved a similar amendment to an ordinance regarding nuisance lighting. Complaints will now need to be brought to the Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department.

Jarman said barking dogs and nuisance lights were the only two municipal code violations where residents could file their own charges without probable cause being determined.

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Follow Nadya Faulx on Twitter @NadyaFaulx.

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