Noisy Animal Ordinance
A noisy animal can be frustrating for neighbors. Under the Contra Costa County Noisy Animal Ordinance (Ordinance Code section 416-12.202), it is unlawful to have an animal that makes noise for an extended period of time and the noise disturbs any person at any time of day or night. A copy of the Ordinance can be found here.
Each of the following persons (called a "Responsible Person" in the Ordinance) can be fined for failing to correct a disturbance caused by a noisy animal:
- The owner of a noisy animal,
- A person with custody or control over a noisy animal,
- The owner of property where a noisy animal is kept, or
- A person with custody or control of property where a noisy animal is kept.
An animal violates the Noisy Animal Ordinance if it causes a disturbance to a person by:
- Making noise for 30 continuous minutes or more ("incessant"), or
- Making noise for 60 minutes off and on during a 24-hour period ("intermittent").
Any incessant or intermittent noise that causes a disturbance, including barking, howling, crying, or baying, violates the Ordinance.
How to Report a Noisy Animal
If a person is disturbed by an animal that violates the County's Noisy Animal Ordinance by making incessant noise for 30 minutes or more, or by making intermittent noise for 60 minutes during a 24-hour period, then that person may make a report to Contra Costa County's Animal Services Department to try to fix the problem.
Before submitting a complaint, however, it is recommended that the person suffering the disturbance contact the person responsible for the animal or for the property where the animal is kept, and notify them that their animal's noise is causing a disturbance. Sometimes the Responsible Person is unaware of the noise and grateful for the opportunity to address the issue. Experience shows that attempting to resolve a disturbance informally may avoid escalating tensions with one's neighbors.
To report a noisy animal, the Complainant must provide his or her name, address and phone number; provide the address where the disturbance occurred; provide the date and time when the disturbance occurred; indicate whether the noise qualifies as "incessant" or "intermittent" as explained above; and describe the animal. The initial report should also identify the person responsible for the animal and the property where the animal is kept. Only one complaint will be accepted per household. A complaint should not be submitted unless the violation has been documented by recording the time(s) of the noise and their duration and the Complainant can show the noise is either incessant or intermittent as explained above.
An initial report may be made by completing this form.
After a report is submitted, the Animal Services Department may send a warning letter to the address identified in the initial report and inform the residents of the complaint. The Responsible Person has 15 days after receiving the warning letter to fix the problem by ensuring the noise does not continue.
Second Report by Sworn Affidavit
If the disturbance is not fixed within the 15 day compliance period (which will be approximately 20 days after Animal Services receives the Complainant's initial report, allowing time for mailing the warning letter), the Complainant may make a second report. The second report must be in a notarized, sworn affidavit made under penalty of perjury, by completing this form. It is essential that the Complainant complete this affidavit completely and accurately as the Complainant may be called to testify in a hearing about the facts included in the affidavit. Again, the Complainant should not submit a complaint unless the Complainant has documented the violation by recording the time(s) of the noise and their duration.
The Complainant must identify a Responsible Person in the affidavit. At minimum, the name of the person who owns the property where the animal is kept can be identified by referring to the County's real property records. If a Responsible Person is not identified in the Affidavit, the Animal Services Department will not take any action.
The Complainant must submit the notarized affidavit in person or by mail, no later than 60 days after the date of the initial report, to the Animal Services Department, Attn: Noisy Animal, 4800 Imhoff Place, Martinez, CA 94553-4300. If no affidavit is submitted within 60 days of the initial report, the Animal Services Department will not take any action. Even with a completed affidavit, the Animal Services Department has discretion whether to take action. The Department will consider the extent and duration of the problem as detailed in the affidavit, whether other neighbors have also complained of the animal in question, and other relevant issues.
Next Steps After Submission of Affidavit
Upon timely receipt of a fully completed affidavit from a Complainant, the Animal Services Department may, in its discretion, issue a Notice of Citation and Fine to the Responsible Person identified in the affidavit.
Upon receipt of the Notice of Citation and Fine, the Responsible Person must fix the problem and either pay the fine identified in the citation or request an appeal hearing. The Responsible Person will be notified of the potential for additional fines if the disturbance continues.
The person who received the Notice of Citation and Fine may request an appeal hearing. The Request for Appeal Hearing must be made within 15 days after receipt of the Notice of Citation and Fine.
The Request for Appeal Hearing form is mailed along with the citation. If you need another copy of this form, please call the main number: 925-608-8400.
If the Responsible Person requests a hearing, the Complainant will receive notice of the hearing and be required to testify at the hearing, which will be scheduled at least 35 days after issuance of the citation. If the Complainant does not appear at the hearing, the complaint and the citation may be dismissed.
Evidence at the hearing may consist of oral testimony, video or audio recordings, logs of dates and times of noise violations, or other documents. Both parties are required to bring 2 extra copies of any evidence they intend to present at the administrative hearing.
If the Responsible Person does not appear at the administrative hearing the fine will become due and payable. Payment of the fine or requesting an appeal hearing does not excuse the Responsible Person from fixing the noisy animal violation.
After hearing testimony and receiving evidence, the hearing examiner will issue a written decision and order. The Responsible Person may appeal the decision to the Contra Costa County Superior Court pursuant to California Government Code section 53069.4.