No barking: Wadena humane society upset over 17-hour quiet hours

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A new ordinance in a central Minnesota city has some residents barking mad.

Wadena city leaders revised the city's kennel ordinance last month, adding a few controversial policies, including prohibiting dogs in certain areas of the city from barking or making noise from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. – a 17-hour span of time.

This no barking policy came after many residents complained about the noisy dogs at the Wadena County Humane Society.

"They didn't like the consistent barking because when they start they don't quit," Jody Grossinger, who lives next door to the Humane Society, told Valley News Live.

This new policy went into effect June 1 in commercial zones, including the humane society and the surrounding neighborhood, the Wadena Pioneer Journal reports. But residents, including some of the neighbors that complained, think the 17-hour quiet time is a little extreme. Other people have expressed their displeasure with this ordinance by writing letters that were published in the local newspaper.

Local pet owners and the humane society asked the city council in a June 10 testimony to reconsider the policy, saying it's an "unrealistic burden" for the animal shelter, which typically houses around 23 dogs at a time, the Pioneer Journal reports.

City officials continue to defend the ordinance.

"I think it is an imperfect compromise between the needs of the humane society, and the needs of the residents living in a commercial zone, and like all compromises, not everyone is happy," Gillette Kempf, a city council member, told Valley News Live.

The humane society says it hopes the city will repeal or adjust the quiet hours, but in the meantime it's working to comply with the new rules, the Pioneer Journal notes. The first step is building a higher fence around the property, which will limit the dogs' view so they're less likely to bark at their surroundings, the Associated Press says. The humane society is holding several events in the coming weeks to raise the thousands of dollars it'll cost to upgrade its fence, the Pioneer Journal reports.

The fine for most dog-related offenses in Wadena is $50, but repeat offenders could be fined $1,000 and spend up to 90 days in jail. The humane society has yet to be fined, Valley News Live reports.

The quiet hours aren't the only controversial part of the policy. The city council also passed an ordinance that requires homes with more than two dogs to apply for a kennel permit, which are only available in commercial zones. So if people don't live in a commercial zone, they are restricted to just two dogs, the Pioneer Journal says.

Most cities in Minnesota have certain types of ordinances against dogs that habitually bark, but don't name specific times or ban barking altogether during certain periods.

The city of Minneapolis does specify, and lists the following as a violation: A dog barking continuously for more than 20 minutes; a dog barking continuously for more than 10 minutes on three occasions in a 14-day span; and a dog barking continuously for more than 5 minutes between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on three occasions in a 14-day span.

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