Friday, July 31, 2009

Dog days

I'm having an incredibly bad day. Actually, yesterday -- Thursday -- was the incredibly bad day. It's 4AM on Friday now. Can't sleep.

Meet Magnum:



Magnum is our next-door-neighbor's pit bull, and I swear he's the world's loudest dog. I tried measuring exactly how loud he was once using the Decibel app on my iPhone and it went off the scale. We've been listening to Magnum bark ever since we moved in to our house four years ago. We've tried everything. We tried being nice. We tried being nasty. We tried calling the police. Animal control. The humane society. We tried everything. Finally, after our neighbor cut off all communication (letters we sent started coming back "return to sender") we filed a lawsuit.

That seemed to do the trick. For a while the barking got better. The deadline for responding to the suit came and went and we thought our neighbor was just going to roll over, so to speak. We were looking forward to putting the whole situation behind us.

Then in the last few days the whole thing came unraveled. Our neighbor hired a lawyer, filed a response, and the dog has started barking again. We've been served with stacks of discovery forms to fill out. We've been told that she intends to fight us "tooth and nail." We're looking at potentially tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills and months of drawn out litigation. Last night, Magnum started barking again and after he had been at it for an hour I just lost it and had a pretty serious meltdown. And now I'm up at 4AM because I just can't get over how the situation has spun so wildly out of control.

All over a fucking barking dog.

I'm amazed at how blase people are about barking dogs. We have loud barking dogs all over our neighborhood. All except this one are too far away to bother us, but all those dogs have neighbors too. How do they deal with it?

Letting your dog bark really ought to be against the law. There's no difference between having your neighbor's dog barking at you and having your neighbor screaming at you through the fence. I doubt many people would put up with the latter; why do they put up with the former?

This is really driving me crazy.

11 comments:

quantamos said...

Did you try technology? I'm surprised you didn't mention it...

http://www.amazon.com/Lentek-PC06G-Bark-Free/dp/B0001MYNLY/ref=pd_sim_k_14

Ross said...

IMHO, anyone who would even think of owning a pit bull is a moron of the first order. They are an unsafe dog breed, and no amount of fabricated reassurances that "They're sweet and gentle until their trained for aggression." changes the underlying nature of the dog.

Anyone naming their dog "Magnum" has serious issues with masculinity and macho culture.

The easiest solution may be to move away from this pit of despair and move to a better neighborhood (Without intending to pass judgment on a situation I know nothing about, I'm a little astonished that you bought a house where someone like this would live).

Ron said...

> Did you try technology?

No. The physical layout makes it almost certain not to work. But I guess we should probably go ahead and try it anyway.

The real problem is not the barking per se, but the fact that our neighbor absolutely refuses all attempts to communicate. Even her lawyer refuses to talk to us (meaning, of course, that he refuses to talk to our lawyer).

> Anyone naming their dog "Magnum" has serious issues with masculinity and macho culture.

Our neighbor is a woman, though the neighborhood scuttlebutt is that she inherited the dog from one of her ex-boyfriends.

> move to a better neighborhood

But for this neighbor, it doesn't get a whole lot nicer than where we are, at least not in LA. We're right on the border of the Angeles National Forest. We can walk out our front door and go hiking in the mountains. Also, this is not the best time to try to sell a house.

> I'm a little astonished that you bought a house where someone like this would live

Believe me, we had no idea when we bought the place. If we had known, we would of course never have done it.

Dennis Gorelik said...

What can legal system possibly do against the barking dog?

Ron said...

> What can legal system possibly do against the barking dog?

Not sure what you mean here. Do you mean what is the basis for our suit, or what are the possible remedies? The basis for our suit is California's private nuisance statute. Possible remedies are injunctive relief and awarding of damages, specifically pain and suffering from not being able to sleep in our own home, and potential loss of value from having to disclose the existence of an intransigent neighbor with a loud and dangerous dog to potential buyers.

Dennis Gorelik said...

How long does usually such legal battle take?
How high are the chances of succeeding in it?

Even if you win -- it would be not pleasant to have disgruntled neighbor living next to you ...

It's hard to sell house, but it's much easier to buy. You may consider lowering price of your house and then demand lowering price of the house you are going to buy in new place...

Jared said...

That is the worst thing I can imagine. I agree 100% with the sentiment "Letting your dog bark really ought to be against the law. There's no difference between having your neighbor's dog barking at you and having your neighbor screaming at you through the fence [edit: you forgot to say: every night, at 4am]. I doubt many people would put up with the latter; why do they put up with the former." I can't believe people can be so antagonistic about this. She is clearly in the wrong. Can't she bring the dog in at night? Or shoot it? This really makes me dislike the human race; how much land do you need to get far enough away from the possibility of obnoxiously loud dogs? It's bad enough to live in an apartment with a neighbor with a sort-of-infrequently-barking dog. I can't imagine a frequently barking dog. How does the lady get any sleep? I wish injunctive relief would require putting the dog down and/or some kind of time in jail, felony charges, etc. Some people+dogs are real bad eggs. I imagine you wouldn't have let this happen with your dog, even a bit? I can't believe asking nicely once doesn't solve the problem. People are not very conscientious. Makes me really dread buying a house, especially when the houses in the LA area are about five feet apart and the nicer neighborhoods have bigger dogs. Lastly, have you tried having a doctor remove your hearing? (j/k)

coby said...

You have my sympathies, this is the kind of injustice that would drive me batty.

I would suggest considering the possibility that she is bluffing and you should call it. You can probably do that without tremendous legal expenses. I would also suggest that piece of mind is worth alot. How does 10K dollars compare to that? (ie it may well be worth it).

As for sacrificing a good neighbourly relationship, I think that ship has sailed...

Ron said...

> You have my sympathies, this is the kind of injustice that would drive me batty.

Thanks.

> I would suggest considering the possibility that she is bluffing and you should call it. You can probably do that without tremendous legal expenses. I would also suggest that piece of mind is worth alot. How does 10K dollars compare to that? (ie it may well be worth it).

Yes, exactly, it comes down to a cost-benefit. If it were just the money the calculus would be different, but it's not. It's also the time, the prying into each other's personal lives through the discovery process, the dragging in of innocent third parties to act as witnesses, the general nastiness of it all, and the overwhelming frustration that comes from the conviction that we could work this whole thing out in five minutes if she (or someone she designates as an agent) would just fucking TALK to us!

> As for sacrificing a good neighbourly relationship, I think that ship has sailed...

Oh, clearly.

Mugzee44 said...

Animal control are the most worthless agency in any State or County! Solution to an owner of an annoying dog.........Prestone burger!!!

Ron said...

Believe me, if I thought I could Magnum's owner to eat one I would have tried it.