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Clarence dog owners found plenty to howl about Wednesday evening at a hearing on a new animal-control ordinance, and the Clarence Town Board responded by tabling the measure for more study.

A provision that would limit households to three dogs drew the most fire, with residents arguing that it's not how many dogs a family has but how they are taken care of that counts.

Even a measure that would subject owners of dogs that bark incessantly to court appearances and fines brought warnings that it could also be used as a weapon in disputes among neighbors.

The code proposes fines ranging from $25 for the first offense to $100 a day for persistent violators, including owners or custodians of "any dog which, by its frequent barking, howling or whining (for) longer than 30 minutes, (disturbs) the comfort or response of any person."

One man in favor told of living near a kennel whose owner "thinks this is all a big joke," while another said his next-door neighbor has three dogs that bark for several hours at a time at night.

"I always seem to come out to be the bad guy, but if my dog were to bark for 10 minutes, I'd be out there doing something about it," the man told the board.

Residents were skeptical about enforcement of the barking-dog provision of the ordinance after the town animal-control officer explained that he would investigate barking-dog complaints by personally verifying that the barking lasts more than 30 minutes before issuing a ticket.

The animal-control officer would have to work "steady nights" and spend all his time timing how long dogs bark, residents said.

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