GLENORCHY  CITY COUNCIL’S  DENIAL of  PROMPT RELIEF FROM BARKING   GLENORCHY CITY COUNCIL'S ANIMAL MANAGEMENT SECTION DENIES PROMPT RELIEF TO BARKING COMPLAINANTS AS STANDARD POLICY This denial of prompt relief is quite wilful and is part of this council's highly questionable policy of preferring to educate the offending dog owner - rather than promptly disciplining him according to the provisions of law in the Dog Control Act 2000. These provisions authorise every council to provide immediate relief from the torment of barking. What are these provisions? There are two main authorisations for prompt relief: (1) Any council's Animal Management Officer may enter the grounds of any dwelling containing a barking dog and remove it forthwith. He may do this whether the dog is still barking or not. He needs no formal proof of the barking because his mere belief that a barking offence has occurred is sufficient justification for him to effect an instant lawful remedy and restore peace to the area, as shown here - Entering land 73. (1) An authorised person who has reason to believe that the owner or person in charge of a dog has committed an offence against this Act may - (a) enter onto land owned or occupied by that owner or person, but not any dwelling on that land; and (b) search for and seize any dog on that land. (2) Councils are also empowered to write infringement notices for $260 if merely of the opinion that a barking offence has occurred - 64. (1) An authorised person may serve an infringement notice on a person if of the opinion that the person has committed a prescribed offence against this Act. This council, in common with many others, has found that prosecuting the owners of barking dogs is fraught with courtroom risk, with attendant costs if things go awry - and because of its ignorance, inexperience, unintelligent approach and general incompetence they surely do. It has therefore devised a diabolical plan to defer prosecutions for as long as possible while it goes through procedures of its own devising and for its own convenience, regardless of how long this takes and while substantially ignoring the consequent prolonging of victims' suffering. Councils everywhere substantially ignore the suffering of barking victims as standard practice, and “blaming the victim” is their common response to dodge responsibility. It has been known for this council to leave neighbourhood dog problems unresolved for over six years. Under its City Inspector Mr Steve Rigby it has determined that the barking provisions in the Dog Control Act may be modified or usurped to whatever suits it, and despite Quiet Tasmania’s diligent efforts to induce correction, no remedies have been effected. Management simply refuses to address the matter thus making this council’s higher personnel complicit in wilful corruption. One such trick is to confiscate an aggrieved person’s Barking Complaint Fee if its Animal management officers claim to find insufficient supportive evidence of the barking complained of. The lurk here is to deny the complainant a proper investigation from the very beginning - a common council response to unwanted challenges. It’s of major regret that the Act provides no quantitive assessment of “unreasonable” barking - and so in fairness it must be acknowledged that councils have some excuse for evading the issue .. but swiping a person’s fee without legitimate cause? That’s theft! While councils pussyfoot around the barking problem, the victim of barking may be subjected to prolonged distress night and day. This is of little consequence to council employess because they themselves are not experiencing the torture of local barking invading their own homes night and day. Noise that invades a person's home is outlawed under section 53 of the Environmental management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (the EMPCA) and the offender may be fined $240 for causing it. (3) Where an offence under subsection (1) or (2) is constituted by the emission of noise that is not an emission specified in an environment protection policy to be an environmental nuisance, the emission is to be taken to unreasonably interfere with a person's enjoyment of the environment if it is unreasonable having regard to - (a) its volume, intensity or duration; and (b) the time, place and other circumstances in which it is emitted; and (c) in the case of noise emitted from residential premises, whether it is, or is likely to be, audible in a habitable room in any other residential premises. The EMPCA's new section 53A is mighty powerful - 53A. Evidentiary provision for environmental nuisance If, in a proceeding for an offence against section 53(1) or (2), an authorized officer or a council officer gives evidence, based on the officer's own senses, that noise, smoke, dust, fumes or odour was emitted from a place occupied by the defendant and travelled to, or was, or was likely to be, detectable at, a place occupied by another person, that evidence is prima facie evidence of the matters so stated. These provisions recognise the damage that can be inflicted on human health because of noise. Barking is noise so the above provisions are equally valid (perhaps moreso due to the extremely raucous and disruptive nature of barking) for the processing of barking complaints and these should therefore be copied into the Dog Control Act 2000 without delay. Most people intuitively feel that their complaint about excessive local barking will be processed by their council in a fair and efficient manner so that neighbourhood peace will be restored as soon as practicable. But distressed citizens are increasingly finding, to their amazement, that their council has little or no interest in resolving their problem and is reluctant to proceed much beyond sending out an Animal Management Officer to survey the local situation. Several weeks later the aggrieved citizen usually receives a written response from a senior council official that its investigation produced insufficient cause for remedial action. This can occur despite an aggrieved citizen's compliance with his council's request, or even its insistence, on the keeping of a barking diary. The recipient of such a letter is immediately astounded that his council could deny blatantly obvious fact. Why do councils increasingly behave in this insidious manner? The answer is rooted in the improper personal attitudes of council staff and the rigorous legal circumstances in which councils are obliged operate. Tasmania's Dog Control Act 2000 is an Act of Parliament that became effective on 4 th  April, 2001. Its section 46 defines barking as a Nuisance, and several subsequent sections delineate how barking complaints are to be processed by councils. The complainant's payment of a Barking Complaint Fee makes a complaint a formal one and immediately imposes a legal obligation upon the council to investigate the complaint in ways that suit itself. Tasmania's councils and Tasmania Police were appointed by this legislation as the state's primary enforcement agencies, but Tasmania Police excuses itself from involvement in Nuisance matters on the grounds that Parliament's intention was that councils were to to be the primary agency dealing with nuisance complaints with the police only becoming involved in more serious matters such as dog attacks. Most citizens support this general view. By comparison with a dog's traumatic and destructive physical attack on a person's flesh and bones, barking is deemed to be nothing more than a legal Nuisance. Unfortunately the word “nuisance” often trivialises what's happening to the victim of barking because he knows full well that he's being grievously tormented by it – indeed it can be so bad that because he can't conveniently escape the din he feels he is being tortured in and around his own home. He desperately needs relief for the sake of his well-being, his general welfare and his mental health. Quiet Tasmania prefers the term “barking assault” rather than “barking nuisance”, and seeks to have the magnitude of this increasingly common torment officially recognised and processed accordingly. Note that this upgrading of barking from nuisance to assault will more deeply involve Tasmania Police. Naturally they will object to this – but the fact remains that councils in general have sneakily resolved that they are not going to risk getting hamstrung with any avoidable legal processing of barking problems. Hereunder are some of the reasons for this denial of duty. The background: With the immense increase in the popularity of dogs as pets (grounds for a comprehensive psychological investigation in itself!) and the consequent skyrocketing increase in their numbers (particularly in the cruelly confined conditions of suburbia) there has been more than a corresponding rise in the number of barking complaints. Suburban conditions allow one dog to hear another's distress calls (called barking) and to respond similarly, thus exponentially exacerbating the local neighbourhood problem. The main cause of barking is this pack animal's anguish through isolation while its owner is at work or otherwise absent. Although councils are authorised to raise funds from their local rate base to cover the costs of administering the Dog Control Act, and although they have the legal power to issue $260 barking infringement notices to offenders to bring in extra funds, they have decided to do neither. Why? In brief, it's because a council's senior- level staff don't want to. The improper personal reasons:  It's been found that dog owners are nearly always disinclined to interfere with the conduct of other dog owners because in doing so they fear that they might swing the spotlight of regulatory attention to themselves - and hence expose their own known laxity in dog control. Rather than risk this, they enter subterfuge mode. With so many of this state's citizens owning dogs (the highest percentage in the nation) it's quite a reasonable assumption that the same percentage of owners outside councils occupy positions within them. It's even more likely that a still higher proportion are employed in a council's animal management section. It has become increasingly evident that these people generally don't want to annoy their fellow animal lovers – and so they don't. To minimise their involvement they devise and present specious excuses to the complainant. The rigorous legal reasons: Councils have found that forcing offenders to court is seriously troublesome and potentially quite costly, particularly if a convicted offender refuses to pay his fine. The proceeds of barking fines, if paid, go to the council which issued the infringement notice. The Monetary Penalties Act can heavily penalise defiant payers and can extract the money owed in various unpleasant ways. The legal system is demanding of proof and most councils, probably all, have at some stage failed in court to provide a sufficiently convincing proof of alleged barking offences. Combine this lack of compelling evidence with the known propensity of offenders to lie under oath, together with a magistrate's predisposition to extend to them the benefit of any doubts, and we have some classic conditions for the public frustration of a council's genuine efforts to effect control over barking in its area. Superficially it seems quite unfair that the logistics of the matter are stacked against councils. In many instances a council's animal control employees (originally dog-catchers, then rangers and now Animal Management Officers) are substantially ignorant of legal procedures and are untrained and unskilled in the presentation of forensic evidence in a courtroom, and this is why councils employ their council's contracted law firm for this stressful task, with the AMOs called to provide evidence. However with the passage of years, and accumulated experience in the courtroom, these employee skills should gradually increase. By comparison, police officers are well trained from the beginning and are usually quite skilled in these areas. The courtroom is a policeman's territory - but council employees are not at home there at all. An employee's ignorance, inexperience and even his stupidity can be easily exposed therein – to the detriment of his council's legal case and the embarrassment of its senior officers. It's become increasingly apparent that councils and their staff want nothing whatever to do with the courts. Court precincts are also great time consumers while cases are disrupted, rearranged, deferred or cancelled. So council staff are faced with this dilemma - comply with the requirements of duty as imposed by the Local Government Act for the keeping of order in their area, or do the right thing and risk unproductive time involvements and their associated costly and embarrassing courtroom failures. Council staff thus have the challenge of shirking responsibility while presenting a public facade of compliance with it. What a vexatious dilemma! How to cope? For nearly every council's management, the answer has become quite clear, and the solution very simple: Enter and maintain the charade of pretending to investigate a barking complaint while all the time knowing that its authenticity will likely be denied and that the matter will therefore not proceed any further. The DCA 2000 provides a council with a illicit bonus for this dereliction of duty – and some are exploiting it. It allows a complainant's formal Barking Complaint Fee ($10-65, depending on the council) to be retained if a council manager believes that an investigated complaint “lacks substance.” Who can truly determine that a complaint lacks substance if the barking alleged by the complainant was not being monitored during the period over which he declared that it occurred? The only way a council can truly find that a complaint lacked substance is to monitor the barking dog's premises for the same full period the complainant does – and this never happens! What easier way is there for a council to escape duty than to fake a barking investigation and then falsely declare an entirely legitimate complaint to be lacking in substance. Adding injury to insult, it then swipes the complainant's money on this lie! This corrupt behaviour has the additional benefit for the council in that the complainant not only lodges no further complaints, but tells others in his area that doing so is futile. Complaints to the council diminish or cease - exactly as its staff wanted. Quiet Tasmania classifies these practices as corrupt behaviour and seeks immediate high-level intervention and effective remedy. SO-CALLED BARKING “INVESTIGATIONS” and ASSOCIATED CORRUPT COUNCIL PRACTICES