Legal Corner May 4, 2016 - My neighbor's dog keeps pooping in my yard, and its owner refuses to do anything about it

Published: May. 3, 2016 at 10:02 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 7, 2017 at 3:58 PM CDT
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Question: "My neighbor's dog keeps coming in my yard and pooping in it and my driveway. Animal control comes, but they will not take the dog or bring its owner to court. The neighbor also refuses to chain it up. What can I legally do to keep the dog off of my property without having to file a police report?"

Of course, the first thing to do is to have a courteous discussion with your neighbor, explain the problem, and ask the neighbor to remedy it. Either ask the neighbor to contain their dog or to clean up after it. If it really bothers you that badly, then the practical thing to do is to build a fence. Fences make great neighbors. Fences can prevent dogs from pooping in your yard way better than the government can. If, however, you choose to seek a governmental remedy, then probably the best approach is to ask the director of Animal Control to enforce the parish ordinances that regulate ownership of animals. There are several parish ordinances that prohibit dogs from running at large and from trespassing in your yard. Section 5, Article III of the Calcasieu Parish Code of Ordinances governs the ownership of domestic animals in Calcasieu Parish. The Code provides that it is illegal for a dog to be "at large." (Sec 5-36; sec 5-47). At large means unaccompanied by its owner or trespassing on another person's property. Also, the dog could be found to be a "nuisance" if "causes unsanitary conditions or odors about the premises of the owner or others through urination or defecation." (Sec. 5-43) The owner of a dog determined to be a nuisance can be fined in increasing increments for first second and third offenses. If you really want to, anyone can seize a dog at large. Sec. 5-47 of the code says that - any citizen may, or law enforcement officer, shall seize any dog found unaccompanied by its owner or keeper and running at-large on any road, street, or other public place or trespassing on any premises other than the owner's. Citizens must contact animal services and adoption center to provide details regarding the animal. But if you do seize the dog, then you become the keeper of the animal, and you become responsible for it. The director of animal control has the authority to review, waive, or amend any violation of this chapter. If the viewer cannot resolve the issue privately, then we suggest they have a meeting with the director and ask the director for help in enforcing the code. If this fails, the ultimate legal remedy is to sue to the owner for an injunction and perhaps other legal relief. The link to the parishes ordinances that apply is here.

Question: "At what age is it legal to leave children home alone while parents work days/nights? There seems to be different answers for different states, and I've heard different answers from law enforcement officers I've spoken with as well."

The viewer is correct in that there is no statutorily set age for leaving children at home alone. In fact, various internet sites confirm only about 10 states or so have statutorily set ages. Most of those range from 10-12. The majority of the states prefer to avoid setting an minimum age. Instead, most states evaluate these situations on a case-by-case basis that depends on the maturity level of the child and how well the child could handle an emergency if they needed to. The agency that primarily deals with this issue in Louisiana is the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Officials with that agency have confirmed for us that all situations are handled case by case. It is the general experience of the Law Center that law enforcement and other agencies seldom, if ever, question leaving a child at home who is 12 and older. Ages 10-12 is seldom questioned when left alone for relatively short periods of time. Under 10 becomes more questionable. Of course there are exceptions to all situations. The foregoing info is not based on any type of legal, educational, or scientific authority. An interesting article on leaving kids alone appears on a site here which is a subsidiary of a non-profit called Families First.

Disclaimer: The information furnished in this answer is general and may not apply to some situations. All legal situations are unique. No one should rely to their detriment on these answers. Anyone with a potential legal problem should seek the advice of a licensed attorney before taking any action or inaction. The answers provided are not intended to be specific legal advice and no attorney client relationship is created between the SWLA Law Center and the viewers of KPLC TV.

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