POLAND – Allen Walker first tried Auburn when looking for a site to open his dog kennel.

Walker couldn’t get past the Planning Board because too many potential neighbors complained that they didn’t want to be around barking dogs.

Now Walker owns and operates The Dog Lodge on Route 122 in Poland. He is concerned about how proposed changes in a town ordinance preventing barking as a nuisance will affect his business.

“We had a heck of a time finding a location for the business,” said Walker. “It’s not cost-effective to be in a commercial area because our kennel promotes a homestyle environment.”

The town ordinance dealing with dogs makes no exemptions for kennels nor does it define a barking nuisance. The vagueness resulted in an unenforceable law that got shot down in court last summer.

Frustration over a neighbor’s dog that was left alone to chase squirrels and sit under a tree barking at its prey for hours led Poland resident Roger Knowlton to pursue a legal remedy. After the failed court case, Knowlton has pushed for a tighter ordinance.

After months of tinkering with definitions, selectmen held a public hearing on a proposed revision of the ordinance last week. However, selectmen took no action and agreed to each bring back their own drafts at the next regular meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. June 1.

Anne Sielaff, owner and operator of Bees Pet Boarding on Tripp Lake Road, said she received a complaint within the first couple of weeks of opening 18 months ago.

“It made me nervous and worry every time a dog barked,” said Sielaff. “With the current ordinance so vague, I was concerned that my neighbors would be able to call any time.”

Walker said he has had a neighbor call anonymously, leaving a complaint on the answering machine. Without a name, Walker said he was unable to respond or to let the neighbor know that he could alter his dog schedule to accommodate the neighbor.

Walker’s alternative kennel is licensed for 20 dogs. Alternative means that the dogs play together in a general area instead of being segregated in individual pens and dog runs.

Like Knowlton, Sielaff is pushing for clarity in the town’s barking ordinance so that she will be better able to follow the rules.

“It looks like we’re going to exclude kennels from the regulations,” said board Chairman Glenn Peterson. “They already go through licensing process and the Planning Board.”

The biggest concern coming from the several residents who participated in the hour-long debate was a fear that neighbors would use the dog-barking ordinance as a tool for harassment or revenge, said Peterson.


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