Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Anti-Dog legislation on agenda in Palmetto Bay. Why are dog owners being singled out?

             Dog owners need to take a close look at Agenda Item 12.A., This is an ordinance scheduled for first reading this Monday, April 7, 2014, by the Palmetto Bay Village Council. This ordinance is sponsored solely by Mayor Stanczyk and it represents a major change from the existing reasonable noise ordinance.

            The current noise ordinance provides for restrictions on noise between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. (later on weekends) and also provides that a “barking dog” shall be considered a nuisance if it barks or bays for a period of longer than twenty minutes.  These are reasonable restrictions which prevent homeowners from leaving animals out to annoy neighbors all day, or keeping neighbors awake at night. This current code can be found online: Sec.30-60.29. Noises – [scroll down to (e)(5) Animals].

            The proposed ordinance goes much further. The complete can be found online at:

This is a proposed amendment to our Palmetto Bay zoning code specifically targeting barking dogs and someone’s new opinion about what constitutes a “public nuisance animal”. It provides for more stringent rules and puts only pet owners at risk for fines levied against their homes based solely upon subjective standards and the owner of any animal deemed a public nuisance animal, “… including barking dogs …” “shall be deemed to be in violation of this article regardless of the knowledge, intent or culpability of the owner.” (emphasis added - Contained in subparagraph (5). I was hoping that this was an April Fools’ Day prank, as it was posted to the village website on April 1st, but it is now April 2nd and it is still there.

This will have a profound and adverse impact on innocent dog owners and you need to be made aware of it. It is directly solely at property owners who have pets. The proposed process does not extend to any other items that people may complain of - loud parties or early morning noise in violation of the noise ordinance like lawn maintenance or construction that starts in violation of the noise ordinance. It doesn’t extend to repairing race cars in one’s yard or even mowing the lawn more than once a week. No, this ordinance is solely directed at pet owners.  It essentially states that, should a neighbor claim that a dog is barking excessively (more than five barks per hour), a fine will be levied.  It is not required that anyone other than the complaining neighbor hear the dog.

This will become a real tool for a vindictive neighbor who wants to target a pet owner, not to mention someone who simply has an unreasonable dislike for animals. And yet someone who does not want to be "a bad guy' by turning in the offensive neighbor will still have to 'suffer in silence.' My fear is that this process will in fact be expanded to other situations – thus setting up neighborhood feuds.

I was unaware as to how bad the living conditions must be in Palmetto Bay. Barking dogs are a crisis requiring drastic new rules? Can you imagine a senior citizen having to give up the family dog because their toy poodle happens to bark 5 times in an hour, more than once during a single month, thus facing a $500 fine?  Do you want to tell your children that you have to get rid of the family pet because a neighbor has targeted you because your dog barks occasionally?  Do dogs not occasionally bark? Mine does; especially when chasing balls or running with family members. Or when a neighbor lawn service starts up, or mango thieves enter our front yard (good dog!) or when another dog walks by (we are, or used to be, a friendly dog-walking community).

An occasional dog bark falls into the category of “normal suburban noise.”  We do not live in the country, so occasionally, we will hear our neighbors talk, do yard work, start their cars, play with their children, splash in their pools, and yes, hear their dogs bark.  By all means, dogs should not bark for an hour.  But an occasional bark is a fact of life.

No more playing with the dog outside should it make noise? How is that family friendly? That is just sad. This is not the vision so many of us have for living as a functioning community in Palmetto Bay.

If such a law was really needed, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a provision in this law that protected pet owners from malicious or frivolous claims, to make you whole for costs (and potential attorney’s fees) you have to put out to defend yourself in the “Civil Citation Hearing Before Special Master [numbered subparagraph (2) of the proposed ordinance]?  There is no intent to create a level playing field here.  This is a dog silencing ordinance. It is interesting that there is no ability of neighbors surrounding the Thalatta Estate to seek similar redress when that place gets rocking each weekend. 

Village leaders should not abdicate their enforcement responsibilities to residents.  This power to initiate a fine levy will only led to spreading the current dysfunction on the village council into neighborhood dysfunction. This is why we hire professionals – our well-trained police and code enforcement officers to step into these situations and make trained judgments. They are impartial.  If a police or code enforcement officer is called and hears a dog barking excessively, a fine will be levied under the existing noise ordinance.  If the dog is not barking enough for the police to notice, this likely means that the barking is not excessive.

Has Palmetto Bay finally “gone to the dogs”? This is a bad proposal. As one of the village founders, we promised those skeptical of incorporation that they would not be subject to restrictive codes – “no Coral Gables type rules.”  This proposal is much more draconian.  This proposed ordinance can be seen as another covenant with the people broken by the current mayor.

Please respond to me as to your review of this proposal.

Thank you.

Eugene Flinn


  1. Outrageous. Is this what keeps our mayor and council awake at night?

  2. Palmetto Bay officials have too much time on their hands. We do not need more regulation. Leave us alone!

  3. Keep the dogs. Muzzle the mayor and council.

  4. Mayor Declares War on Palmetto Bay Dog Owners

    Our reviled and loathed Mayor Shelley Stanczyk has once again proven just how out of touch she is with reality. Could November's Mayoral election get here any quicker? Apparently, tired of attacking schools and churches she has now turned her attention to attacking her constituent's pets, dogs in particular.

    She has sponsored an Ordinance scheduled to be read at Monday's Village Council meeting which will effectively fine every resident of Village of Palmetto Bay if their dogs barks more than five times in an hour.

    I affectionately call it the "Five Bark Penalty". If it wasn't so incredibly offensive it might actually be humorous.

    It's too bad this ordinance hasn't been in effect during Council meetings over the last three and a half years while she's been Mayor.

    Enough of my commentary, here's some bits and pieces of the Ordinance.
    •Barking dog shall mean a dog that barks, bays, cries, howls or makes any other noise continuously and/or incessantly for a period of twenty minutes or barks intermittently for one hour or more to disturb any person, day or night.
    •Barks intermittently shall mean a noise disturbance caused by a barking dog which occurs 5 times within an hour. (Would that be 5 short barks or 5 long barks and who decides when the barking begins and stops? I didn't realize Village Manager Ron Williams has employed Dr. Doolittle on Village staff.)
    •Public nuisance animal shall mean any animal or combination of animals that makes excessive noises, including, but not limited to, continued or repeated howling, barking, whining (you get the point) which substantially interferes with and /or disturbs a Village resident's enjoyment of life and/or property.
    •Enforcement responsibility; The Village will now hire a Noise Control Officer (great another Village Employee) who will have primary enforcement responsibility after an affidavit is filed by the complainant to the Village of Palmetto Bay. The Noise Control Officer will then investigate on a "complaint only" basis (don't really understand what a "complaint only" basis is, but then I don't understand 99% of what the Village enacts for their personal amusement).
    •After an affidavit is filed by a resident, a notice of Civil Infraction is issued by the Village Noise Control Officer with a 30 days correction period (this basically gives you 30 days to visit your Vet and have your dog surgically debarked). If the barking continues you are then penalized, fined and quartered.
    •The fine for a barking dog for a first offense is $250.00 (that works out to be $50.00 per bark) with subsequent fines for repeated violations costing $500.00.

    If you don't believe anyone in their right mind would sponsor this type of Ordinance please visit the Village of Palmetto Bay website.

    I would assume by reading this Ordinance that Mayor Stanczyk and the Village Planning and Zoning Director Darby Delsalle, hate animals or at the minimum are cat lovers.

    Is this nonsense and intellectual ineptitude really what we expect from our elected officials and Village Staff? I hope the Councilmembers who vote for this Ordinance realize it guarantees their ouster during the November election.

    You always have the option of voicing your displeasure with this Ordinance prior to Monday's meeting by emailing the Mayor and Councilmembers or calling the Village.

    David Singer

  5. There are a few reasons why I chose to live in Palmetto Bay:

    1. Large parcels and space between the houses: Palmetto Bay area offered a peaceful and shady environment for us to raise our children, and land for our dog(s) to exercise on.

    2. A place where "Common Sense" seemed to be the rule of order with many old timers were native to the area, and where helping a neighbor and being friendly was a pleasure and not a chore.

    3. A place where the congestion of traffic and the bureaucracy of government seemed to pass us by.

    Our elected leaders however.... seem to think that plugging up traffic on US1 with an ill conceived and obscurely sponsored Downtown Development program (There was never a downtown to Re-develop!) .....growing an already OVERSTAFFED and OVERSPENT brick & mortar government establishment .....and penalizing our beloved pets who are only doing what they are meant to alert and let there owners and others know that there are possible intruders (in other words PROTECT OUR PROPERTIES!) via their barking!

    I'm sure that our mayor has the best of intent.....but even ROB FORD of Toronto has more sense than her to try to muzzle our dogs? An he's on CRACK!

    We need some good old common sense back in government! Our incorporation was supposed to limit our Tax Rates and take us away from wasteful bureaucracy, not burden our future with debt and grow a new infrastructure which is way beyond the size of our village!

  6. Any neighbor can turn you in without any Police Officer or Village employee witnessing your dog's barking, and you could be fined up to $1000 per infraction? A persons dog is part of their family and when you start messing with a someone’s family only bad things happen. I hope the police and Village are prepared for neighbors killing each other in when someone loses their dog over this new ridiculous legislation.