SILVERTON, Oregon -- A woman is upset over a $2,500 ticket for her barking dog. Neighbors say the dog barks all the time, and they've left notes asking whether the woman's dogs are OK. The dog's owner says the fine is ridiculously high, especially when compared with nearby areas.
Police told KATU the dog's owner, Colleen Nunn, was warned repeatedly by neighbors and once by an officer before she was issued the fine, which stems from a city ordinance that was established in 1997.
Chief Jeff Fossholm said for any code violation that doesn't have a specific fine amount attached to it, the standard fine is a maximum of $2,500. He said in this case and others, $2,500 is what officers are required to write on the ticket.
Jim, a neighbor who only wanted to provide his first name, complained about the barking to KATU.
"It's just non-stop, and it gets aggravating," Jim said.
A KATU news crew saw two dogs wearing muzles outside Nunn's home on Friday, May 12th. Jim and other neighbors said those dogs aren't a problem. They said a dog named "Luke," who was inside on Friday, barks incessantly.
"The dog's just been barking from the time she leaves in the morning until she gets home at night," Jim said.
Nunn admitted she's been warned repeatedly.
"November 3rd I moved in. Middle of November there was a note on my door from a neighbor saying 'hey, your dogs are barking,'" Nunn said.
Nunn said they tried putting the dogs on daily anti-anxiety medication, but six weeks later there was another complaint, she said.
"Since we got another note, we tried the shocking bark collars on the dog," Nunn said.
By January, Nunn said she received another note from a neighbor, and a "courtesy warning" from police.
"I asked my daughter, because she was home while I was at work. I said, ‘hey, were the dogs out at all? I just want to be sure.’ She said, ‘No, the dogs were inside with me all day,'" Nunn said.
Nunn said they put muzzles on the dogs, and didn't hear anything until police wrote her a ticket.
“He said, ‘I just want to prepare you for the sticker shock.’ And I’m like, ‘OK.' And then he gave it to me and I’m like, ‘$2,500?!' I mean, I think it's outrageous. I think it's ridiculous!" Nunn said.
KATU did find this fine is extremely high compared with those in other nearby areas, where the maximum fine is $350 for first-time offenses.
Even Jim, Nunn's neighbor said the $2,500 fine is high, and other neighbors agreed.
"That’s ridiculous. If she was charged $50, $100 or whatever (I'd approve), but $2,500 I think is a little uncalled for," Jim said.
Chief Fossholm said typically citizens wind up paying far less than $2,500 in excessive dog-barking cases. He said the city's policy was put in place to provide an incentive for residents to show up to court and resolve municipal code violations.
A municipal judge will ultimately decide the final amount of the fine.
A court hearing is scheduled for June, when the woman will have the opportunity to explain to the judge her side of the story.