OBTAINING and SUPPLYING BARKING EVIDENCE ---   What to do when your council won't !   --- Victims of neighbourhood barking assaults have several options on what to do about it. One of these is to lodge an informal complaint with their local council, for example by telephone, whereupon a diligent council will initiate investigative and remedial procedures merely on its trusting acceptance of your word alone. Usually however, a council will require you to lodge a formal complaint in writing.  When it receives this completed form, together with the Barking Complaint Fee it's authorised by law to charge, it is legally obliged to investigate your complaint. Investigation of a barking complaint requires the gathering of evidence. How councils go about this is entirely up to them. A common method is called “monitoring from a distance” wherein a council's Animal Management Officer (AMO) quietly stations his vehicle sufficiently distant from the premises alleged to contain the dog to avoid triggering any response from it, and then records what he hears and sees in diary form. This may be done at random times or at those times when the complainant says the problem most commonly occurs, should there be a recognisable pattern to the barking times. This record comprises your council's evidence in whole or in part. If the matter eventually goes to court then the AMO may testify from this record. But many councils have come to detest barking complaints so much that they refuse to implement remedial action, justifying this dereliction of duty with specious excuses or even outright denials of fact. These councils have realised, perhaps through the percentage of their prosecutions that have failed, that the easiest way to avoid their involvement, with its consequent risks and costs, is to pretend that there's insufficient evidence of barking nuisance to justify their remedial intervention. When this happens, the complainant is left incredulous that his council denies the blatantly obvious - but he does not know what more he can do. He is distressingly aware that the problem is ongoing yet his council refuses to address it. This dilemma is very common. Some distressed victims of barking assault then set about gathering their own evidence of the offences tormenting them. There is an increasing reliance on videotaping for this purpose, but an audio cassette record of the barking is far easier to make and, after its transcription to a computer file using appropriate software, may be emailed directly to the council using just a few megabytes of file space. This technique can place evidence of barking directly on the computers of AMOs sitting in their council office where they can then hear the din within an hour of its actual occurrence. But how will a listening AMO know that what he's hearing is a true record of what you claim? The answer to this question resides in the fact that along with the continuous audio file, which included your own opening and progressive voice-over date and time stamps, and ideally a brief authenticating radio pick-up as well, your covering email includes your declaration attesting to the truth of the record. Why should any AMO believe that, just because you say it? There is a powerful reason – anything you say in an email can be used in court as a fully legal document. When your council has your barking allegations backed up this way it ceases to have any valid reason to deny the offence. Councils which claim they have not secured sufficient evidence of your complaint and who perhaps deceitfully claim that your allegations upon investigation were found to have little or no substance to them are now really on the spot. These councils now have, right in their offices and whether they want it or not, legally acceptable evidence of your allegations. It follows that there's now a full justification for your council's remedial intervention – something that a sincere council can begin implementing within an hour of the actual offence. ---o0o--- It has been found that this method works, for example by using processing tools comparable to these: Audio cassette recorder:  Sony cassette-corder. Microphone sensitivity: high Cassette tapesTDK 90 minute (45 minutes per side) available from Chickenfeed for $2 each Transcription software NCH Software, Wavepad Sound Editor Sampling rate: 16,000 bits/second After recording the barking that's on your audio cassette, this software also permits the reduction of tape hiss and noise. This results in a clearer recording.