My boyfriend and I live in a studio apartment with all our windows facing the backyard, where our landlord keeps his two big and very, very loud dogs. The backyard is pretty small and the dogs are left there for days at a time, whatever the weather, so it seems that the barking is more of a cry for help than anything else. They go at it for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, several times a day, and even more frustratingly - late at night. When they're not barking, they're whining, and there's just no hiding from the noise - the acoustics make it seem like they're in our bedroom. Sometimes, there's a neighbor's dog out in a nearby yard, the three of them bark together for what seems like hours.No one's complained to our knowledge, and for a good reason - the rent is very low for the neighborhood, the apartments are nice, and the landlord is generally pretty laid back about everything. Seems like if he could shut the dogs up or keep them anywhere else, he would have done so already, so complaining to him would be pointless, and if we try to involve the law in this, he'll get pissed off and invite us to seek accommodations elsewhere. How do we get the noise to stop without that leading to us moving out? Please help! ~Alena

2005_03_askaspca.jpgAsk Gothamist has thought about what to do about the perpetual barking dog(s) before (and we have some experience, as our old neighbor had an angry pit bull that never shut up) but it sounds like the dogs here are being neglected.

Generally, for barking dogs, call 311 and talk to the Department of Environmental Protection, which handles noise complaints. (Or call the Department directly at (718) 699-9811.) If you think there's abuse or neglect (defined as depriving the dogs of shelter from extreme weather and/or not providing food and water regularly) you can contact the ASPCA. Their website has information on how to report animal cruelty.

When reporting incidents (either a noise violation, or accusing the landlord of animal cruelty) we suggest just asking to be kept anonymous. In the case of simply making a noise complaint, the landlord will get a letter from the DEP, which might be enough to scare him into doing something to help the dogs. (If no one has complained, maybe he doesn't think there's a problem.) If there is genuine neglect, getting the ASPCA involved may be your only option if you want to help the dogs. Definitely call them, though, and ask their opinion, as we're sure they see such cases all the time.

Related: See the ASPCA in action on the Animal Planet show Animal Precinct. Also, Ask Gothamist on if you can train your dog to stop barking.