Neighbor Leaves Letter Complaining about Barking Dog
I am not sure of the best way to handle a neighbor's barking dog, but I don't think this is it.
We've heard these stories before: someone does something that bothers their neighbor and they end up receiving a passive-aggressive letter that, in most cases, does more harm than good.
From loud kids to barking dogs parking wrong to cutting the grass too early, there's a lot that could cause a neighbor to complain. Late night parties, new floodlights, blocking drainage, a trashy yard, broken fence - so many things that could cause a rift.
It seems like we all know how to be annoyed, but we aren't certain of the best way to go about finding a remedy.
Take this situation: an old neighbor of mine posted this photo on the Facebook:
The letter, in part states:
Your dog barking from 5:30 am until you decide to bring it inside is getting ridiculous... There are 2 laws in Aspinwall, the nuisance law & the noise ordinance... We will be calling the police if you do not become a responsible dog owner.
Okay, I get the fact that the neighbor is upset. After all, losing sleep can cause lots of health problems. But is a letter like this right out of the gate the best way to handle the situation?
It seems like this isn't the only neighbor the received one of these semi-threatening letters. In the comments section on the post, another family in the neighborhood posted a letter they had received over 2 years ago and, judging by the composition, it was written by the same person.
I am no FBI profiler or handwriting expert, but: if I had to put money on it, I'd say that the person who wrote the first letter is definitely the same person who wrote the most recent one.
I understand that some people are not very social and get uncomfortable in situations that border on being confrontational. I understand that some people may work a schedule that does not allow them to "visit" during normal hours. I understand, too, that some people are just jerks.
We may never know in which category the complainant may belong, but I feel that I would have handled things differently.
Take, for instance, the time I saw my (3 doors down, on the next street) neighbor's cat clawing at the top of my convertible. If you've ever owned a cat, you know how much damage those beasts can do in efforts of having sharp claws (it's a nature thing).
Not wanting to hurt the cat and also not wanting to have a ruined convertible top, I set up a live trap and was able to capture the cat. Then I went door-to-door in the neighborhood until I found the owners.
When they saw the cat they were excited, as it had been "missing" for over a day. I told them I was glad that they were reunited and that the cat had been watered and fed while in my care, and they were grateful. I also told them, in a very nice, non-confrontational way, that the reason I trapped him is that he was damaging the top of my car.
They apologized profusely and then asked if they could pay for any damages their cat may have caused. I declined, as the damage was minor, but did say that if the cat continued to scratch at my top, it would at some point need to be replaced.
Then I said that the best way they could repay me is to try better to keep the cat on their property.
They totally understood and, since that day, the only place I've seen that cat is in their front window as I am walking the neighborhood.
I see them at the grocery from time to time, and we are still friendly.
Maybe the best way to handle situations like these is to have a face-to-face, heart-to-heart with the neighbor? Certainly, the letter(s) get the point across, but what kind of world does that create for neighbors?
If you have a problem with a neighbor and no one is in immediate danger, do the world a favor and have a conversation. Make note of the conversation if you think you'll find yourself having to have a second conversation.
After that second conversation, I believe, it is time to get the police involved. Give your neighbor a chance to rectify the situation before going double-barrel on them; wouldn't you want the same consideration?
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