Update: Hillsborough County will now hold pet owners accountable by regulating excessive dog barking after the ordinance passed on Wednesday morning.
Any excessive animal noise that is constant and lasts longer than 20 minutes will be reported to the Sheriff's Office or Animal Control to investigate. Officials are encouraging complainants to record the barking for investigators.
The amended noise ordinance passed with a 7 to 0 vote.
Original Story: County commissioners held a public hearing on the item on Wednesday. Staff determined that the best avenue to amend this existing ordinance was include enforcement against the owners of nuisance animals, according to county documents.
The amended noise ordinance says excessive dog noise is anything that is considered "unreasonably loud, raucous, jarring, disturbing or a nuisance to a reasonable person" and "disturbs the peace, quiet and comfort of the neighborhood." The ordinance also covers injuries or endangers human or animal health or property.
Excessive noise is considered constant animal noise for 20 minutes or more, the new ordinance states.
This not only includes barking, but meowing, howling, and other animal noises.
Commissioners say this is enacted to protect, promote, and preserve the health, safety, welfare, peace and quiet of the citizens of Hillsborough County through the reduction, control, and prevention of noise disturbance.
Those who are caught violating the new noise ordinance will face up to $500 in fines and/or up to three months in jail, said Commissioner Sandra Murman, who spearheaded the changes.
If you would like to report excessive animal noise, call Hillsborough County Animal Control at 813-744-5660. Either a sheriff's deputy or animal control officer will come out to investigate, commissioners said.
Murman said the language is very similar to a noise ordinance in Jacksonville, where it's already proven very effective.