If you receive a Noisy Pet Letter from a neighbor or a courtesy letter for Animal Noise Disturbance from Animal Protection & Control regarding your pet:
Step 1: Communicate with your neighbors
This may require you to knock on some neighbor’s doors and initiate a conversation to find out what is wrong.
Animals creating a disturbance can have an impact on their neighbors that you may be unaware of. Dogs are the most common animal which causes animal noise disturbance complaints. Dogs tend to bark when their owners are not home, which may also be at times someone with a small child is sleeping, or when someone is working or trying to enjoy their backyard. Early morning hours, late-night hours, lengthy or repetitive occurrences are the most common complaints received, but other types of noise could be a violation. There is no time of the day when an animal is allowed to create a disturbance. Pet owners sometimes have become so used to their pets that they are unaware of the noise they are making can be disruptive to others around them.
Try speaking with your neighbor to find out when your pet is bothering them. See if there is a way to avoid the things that cause your pet to create the disturbance, such as changing the time dogs are let out, not leaving them unsupervised, etc. Give your neighbor a contact number to call if your animals are making too much noise.
Try to work out a mutually agreeable and reasonable solution in a neighborly manner. Keep in mind that noise you don’t find disruptive may not be the same for others in your neighborhood. An example is someone playing music you like versus music you don’t like. People tend to not notice things that don’t bother them personally, even when it may be excessively loud or repetitive.
You can find some tips for dog owners on barking issues here.
Step 2: If you can’t communicate with your neighbor directly – Fort Collins Mediation is a potential option
The City of Fort Collins offers a mediation program with the goal of “providing neighbors a safe, efficient and neutral environment to discuss and resolve conflicts based on the needs of each party”. Mediation is a good next step to help resolve neighbor issues before moving on to enforcement actions. You can contact Fort Collins Mediation through their website by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 970-224-6022.
Courtesy letters are a notification to pet owners that a complaint has been received that their animal is creating noise which is a disturbance to the peace and quiet of another person or is unreasonable. It is the opportunity for an animal owner or keeper to be made aware of the complaint and to take steps to address the issues causing the complaint.
A courtesy letter is not required by law to be issued prior to a citation but is a step in the process developed by Animal Protection & Control to address these types of complaints and mitigate the complex issues with animal disturbance. There may be rare occasions when a courtesy letter is not issued prior to a citation being issued.
Animal Protection & Control will only issue one courtesy letter to an animal owner/address in a twelve-month period. Courtesy letters are kept on record but do not result in any fines or penalties.
If a second complaint is received within the twelve months following an Animal Noise Disturbance courtesy letter the pet owner or keeper may receive a citation. Citations may be a civil infraction or a municipal violation. 1st offense civil infractions within a twelve-month period may have a fine of $175.00. Subsequent infractions fine amounts increase with each violation. More than two violations within twelve months may be charged as a misdemeanor requiring a court appearance. Additional citations may be issued for repeated violations. The twelve-month period begins with the most recent formal complaint.
Please be advised that citations may be posted or issued in person.
If you have received a citation for Animal Noise Disturbance:
Upon receiving a citation for Animal Noise Disturbance an animal owner or keeper has the choice of paying the fine and accepting responsibility for the violation or contesting the violation. Please contact Fort Collins Municipal Court for guidance on how to proceed with either choice. Failure to pay a fine or contest a violation by the deadline given on the citation can result in a verdict of liable by default and assessment of fines.
If you believe your animal has been creating a disturbance there is still an opportunity to address the issue and take steps to mitigate the noise. It does not hurt your case to take these steps to demonstrate to the court you are engaged in finding solutions.
If you do not believe your pet is responsible for creating the disturbance in the complaint you have the opportunity to contest the violation in a hearing, during which time both parties may give testimony regarding the complaint.