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'Dog-fest' haunts El Paso residents with incessant barking

By Collin Carroll, Collin Carroll, collin.carroll@kvia.com
Published On: Nov 08 2013 12:06:22 AM CST
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 06:50:21 PM CST

Excessive dog barking is so rampant in one far east El Paso neighborhood that one resident refers to the area as "dog-fest."

EL PASO, Texas -

Excessive dog barking is so rampant in one far east El Paso neighborhood that one resident refers to the area as "dog-fest."

But this isn't even the neighbor who's complained to the city. He's used to "dog-fest" and has learned to deal with it, said Christian Borges, of the 11700-block of Francis Scobee Drive.

"It's just like a dog-fest," he said.

Admission is free from sun up to sun down, Borges said, and the concert often continues into the wee hours -- in surround sound.

"This whole entire neighborhood has a bunch of dogs, so once they start barking, all the dogs start to bark," Borges said.

One next-door neighbor can't open his windows or hear his television. Mauro Herrera has called the city a handful of times, and officers have come out but not done anything, he said. He's repeatedly asked the neighbors to take the dogs inside.

The dog owner wasn't home to answer questions.

"Is that neighbor not bound by us as a society to stop that behavior? And if it's not, then we need to make those rules," Herrera said. "Because otherwise there's no control, there is no rule, there is nothing, we have no society."

El Paso city code bans animals that make noise frequently or for long periods of time, and that disturb a residential neighborhood, said Code Compliance Manager Elda Hefner.

"Dogs are gonna bark," Hefner said. "That is what they do."

In a residential area, the noise limit from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. is 50 decibels. From 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., it's 55 decibels. The hum of an air conditioning unit at 100 feet is about 60 decibels. Commercial and manufacturing areas have higher tolerances.

First offenses yield a warning and a packet that tells owners how to make their dogs pipe down.

"They want their owner to give them some attention," Hefner said. "Exercising their dogs is so critical."

Second offense is a $59 citation. Fines can go as high as $2,000. A code compliance officer must witness the offense, so it's often quicker to gather video evidence of a neighbor's noisy dog and file a complaint with the city prosecutor.

Herrera doesn't plan to bother with the courts, he said. If El Paso won't enforce it's own code, he said, then after 23 years in the neighborhood, he's ready to move.

"We're not addressing the animal, we're addressing us as a civilization," Herrera said. "As neighbors, are we neighbors or not?

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