ADDITIONAL verification will be sought alongside "dog bark diaries" for complaints about loud pets in Port Stephens under a new policy councillors will consider at Tuesday night's meeting.
The new policy, which is recommended for approval, is designed to give dog owners a chance to resolve complaints before they are given a formal direction by rangers.
The altered policy requires a "barking dog diary" from complainants "to establish the validity of the complaints", but will attempt to verify it beyond that through interviews and patrols.
Rangers will contact the dog's owners on the first complaint to give them 14 days to resolve the issue.
Persistent complains will require a diary and statement from the complainant, who is also "encouraged to obtain audio recordings of noise episodes where possible".
It defines repeated barking as more than three episodes of five barks in one hour on multiple occasions over 24 hours, but also notes that assessing officers will use this as a guide and must see "demonstrated impact".
After the diary is submitted, rangers will interview neighbours, patrol and issue a 28-day noise abatement order to the dog's owner. Infringements will follow for repeated barking.
"The policy provides council with an effective tool for dealing with noise complaints in relation to barking dogs," the report to councillors states.
"The policy seeks to protect neighbourhood amenity in a fair and equitable manner."
The proposed changes were publicly exhibited throughout August and attracted six submissions from residents. All but one were supportive of the changes.
A report to councillors notes that the submission against argued that "council staff are not qualified or experienced enough in investigations to legally implement the relevant legislation or the policy changes".
The Newcastle Herald reported on Saturday that Port Stephens dog attack incidents had remained stable while Newcastle and Lake Macquarie's tallies had grown.
Councillors will weigh the policy at Tuesday's meeting.