If you live in a residential area, several of your neighbors probably have pets. Someone else’s cat or dog that wanders into your yard from time to time may not be an issue if it’s friendly, but an animal that bites or scratches your children or pets, or that leaves waste behind, can be a danger to your family’s health and safety.
Steps You Can Take
If an animal can get into your yard because the fence is damaged, repairing it may solve the problem. You can set up security cameras to gather evidence and encourage neighbors to keep their pets out of your yard. You can post signs stating that the property is under surveillance and warning people to keep their dogs off your property.
If a neighbor’s animal has repeatedly entered your property without permission and is a nuisance, you may be able to resolve the matter amicably by having a conversation with your neighbor. He or she may be unaware of the issue and you may be able to work out a solution.
If you’re worried about the health and safety of your family, especially young children, speak to the neighbor in person as soon as possible. Explain what happened and why you are concerned. Try to avoid being angry and confrontational, but make it clear that the problem needs to be addressed immediately.
Consider Legal Action
If the neighbor fails to resolve the issue, you may have to get the authorities involved. Most municipalities have laws related to the types of animals that residents may own and how they must be confined or restrained. You can check to find out if your neighbor is in violation of any ordinance.
The police department may not be willing to get involved unless there is an imminent threat to health or safety, but you can contact the Animal Control Department. They may investigate, issue a fine and order the neighbor to address the issue.
In some cases, you may have to get an attorney to send a letter threatening to take legal action if the neighbor does not resolve the matter. If you file a nuisance lawsuit because of a repeated problem, a judge may order the neighbor to remedy the situation and impose a fine.
Talk to other neighbors to find out if they have also experienced problems with the animal in question. If so, multiple complaints may be more effective than a single complaint.
What Not to Do
Do not, under any circumstances, harm or threaten to harm the animal or your neighbor. That can get you in a boatload of legal trouble. Don’t leave the pet’s waste on your neighbor’s doorstep, in their mailbox or take any other spiteful action, no matter how frustrated and angry you are.