City dog ordinance changed, county looks to close spending gap

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

The term “guard dog” will be removed from a provision that exempts certain animals from Rockford’s nuisance law in order to make it easier for neighbors to file complaints.

After the new language is approved, it will require neighbors to prove dogs are a nuisance by recording video or audio footage of animals barking for 10 minutes or longer. The changes don’t stop there. For a complaint to be heard, at least two neighbors from two households must witness the incessant barking. However, a person may file a complaint if a police officer or county animal control officer serves as a witness.

According to an amendment to the city’s barking dog ordinance passed in January, “guard dogs” were exempt from the law if they were used for protection.

The Rock River Times has attempted to speak to Tim Barth, whose four dogs at 601. W. Jefferson St., sparked the debate, but he hasn’t been available for comment. Barth argued that although his dogs barked, they prevented crimes in the area, include a robbery and car theft. The dogs were not outside Barth’s business Monday night.

After neighbors complained about Barth’s German shepherds, aldermen were forced to rethink the provision.

At the July 21 meeting of the Rockford City Council, neighbors asked the city to revert back to (City of Rockford Code of Ordinances [Barking Dogs and Animal Noise] ) 4-59, making all owners subject to warnings and fines if they fail to keep their dogs quiet.

However, Monday, July 28, aldermen chose scrap the work “guard dog,” and rewrite the ordinance.

The council is expected to approve the new ordinance next week.

In other government reports, Winnebago County officials may institute a hiring freeze to help close what is being reported as a $2.5 million budget gap. Under the proposal, specific employees would not be replaced if they quit or retire. No layoffs would be expected, according to the proposal.

Another option would be to reduce spending in a number of areas. Both options are expected to be discussed in upcoming meetings of the Winnebago County Board. A plan must be adopted by Sept. 30.

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