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Barking up the wrong legal tree

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By The Gazette

If ever there was a law that needed smacking on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper, it was Hillsville's ill-conceived proposal to control noisy animals.
Town council members were right to put this idea down, before it created a situation that would likely have resulted in near-constant howls of complaint from citizens and dogged police officers trying to enforce its too-strict rules.
It would have made it a violation for an animal to be heard at least once a minute for 10 consecutive minutes, conjuring visions of police officers with stopwatches counting the frequency and duration of barks, squawks, meows, moos and bleats.
There was also a distance issue, for animals that could be heard from 50 feet away. Again, cops would've had to break out yardsticks and tape measures to see who could hear what.
Citizens already growl about their opinion that police aren't handling enough "real" crimes. Imagine the outcry if officers were distracted from drug dealers while determining a duck's distance from the next-door neighbors.
Would the town have had to hire a full-time dog whisperer to calm cantankerous canines?  Would Hillsville have to mute its mules, muzzle its mice, gag its geese or silence its swine?
The courts could have become a zoo.
If multiple dogs start barking, do you charge only the first dog that started it? The subsequent barking dogs could argue self-defense.
Maybe the first dog insulted their mother —we don't know what they're saying.
What about caterwauling cats in the alley? With a good attorney, they could convince a jury that their nightly noise is a musical street performance, protected by the First Amendment.
With a crack legal team, the rooster that crows even when the sun isn't coming up might have his case thrown out by arguing that he's just announcing the break of day in each time zone around the world.
Would doomed deer leaping off Hillsville's new bypass bridge be fined posthumously for making too loud a TWHACK! when they hit the pavement?
It's up to pet owners to keep their animals quiet and not let them to become a nuisance, but town council had good instincts to not allow this proposal to go any further.
Keeping animals quiet is like trying to calm the wind or hold back the tide. Their sounds are part of nature, and the only feasible way to ban excessive animal noise is to ban an excessive number of animals.
That's where any good law should start — with numbers, not noise.