My Dog Barking Jail Story
Here is my dog barking story and how I was arrested for a dog barking ticket.
Cherokee County Georgia Dog Barking Ordinance
Watch the video of me speaking during the public comment time before the Cherokee County Board of Commissioner on April 19, 2016 here:
On February 19, 2016 I was issued a citation by Cherokee County Animal Control. The offense was “nuisance barking” by my dog Ginger, a 13 year old Golden Retriever/Border Collie mix. I think it probably had something to do with my pet feeding options as well.
The officer who issued the citation pointed out a sticker on the back of the citation indicating the phone number of the Cherokee County Magistrate Court. He informed me that I should call the number to find out more information about the fine, including the amount due and how it can be paid.
When I called the Magistrate Court I was informed that the amount of the fine was $205.50 and was due by April 5, 2016.
Arrested for a Dog Barking Ticket
On April 5 I went onto the Magistrate Court’s website to pay the fine, but didn’t see how to pay online. When I called the court I was told that the fine could not be paid online I was told to come to the courthouse to pay. I left work and went to the courthouse to pay the fine, arriving there about 2:00 PM.
When I spoke to the administrative staff in the Magistrate Court office, I was informed that I could not pay the fine and that there was a bench warrant out for my arrest. I was told to go to the County Sheriff office on Univeter Road and turn myself in.
Not believing what I was told I approached two officers on duty by the entry to the courthouse. I informed them what I was just told and asked them if this was real. They shook their heads in disbelief and said they would check into it.
While I was talking to them, they got a call on their radio about me and suddenly three other officers approached me. I told them what had happened and they also shook their head in disbelief.
One of the officers went into the Magistrate Court office to find out what was going on. When he came back he informed me that the judge had left for the day and he apologized as he informed me that I had to be handcuffed and arrested.
I was taken to a room in the courthouse where I was patted down and searched. All my personal belongings were taken from me. I was put in a van and driven to the jail on Univeter Rd where I was placed in a cell for some time and then processed, including having my photograph taken and fingerprinted.
After waiting for another two hours I was released on bond and told to show up in court on April 19, 2016. I was detained for a total of 5 hours from the time I was handcuffed in the courthouse to the time I was released from the jail.
Dog Barking Court
On my court date the morning of April 19th, the prosecutor stood up and began announcing names and spoke privately with each person. When he spoke with me, I was told that I could plead guilty or not guilty and go to trial. I asked him what the charge was and he said nuisance barking. I asked about failing to appear in court the first time, he said that didn’t matter.
I told him that I want to pay the fine for dog barking. He wasn’t sure if I could pay it before the judge arrived in court so he asked one of the clerks. I was told I could pay the fine and the matter would be finished. The bailiff led me out to the administrative office where I paid the fine and I was free to go.
Local Government Overreach
Everyone agrees it’s an overreach for government to have the power to arrest a citizen for a dispute about a barking dog, even if the fine is paid late. There are other ways local government can enforce a dog barking ordinance.
The ordinance should be rewritten to make it impossible for anyone to get arrested for a barking ticket, even if the fine is paid late. It should never have come to this in my situation and no citizen should live under the threat of arrest for a barking dog ticket.