Barking Dogs Cause Reston Neighbors To Threaten Suit Against Park

by Karen Goff February 19, 2014 at 9:30 am 2,368 38 Comments

For more than 15 years, the off-leash dog park at Reston’s Baron Cameron Park has been a place for dog owners to let the pets frolic freely and play with other dogs in a safe, enclosed area.

Enough, says a group of nearby residents. They say the dog park is a noisy nuisance and they want it to go away.

The families have hired an attorney to file a lawsuit against Reston Dogs, Inc., the dog park’s supporting group, as well as Fairfax County Park Authority, which owns Baron Cameron Park.  The people upset about the noise live  in the Longwood Grove subdivision, which is separated from the dog run by a buffer area of trees, as well as four lanes of Wiehle Avenue.

“My firm represents several residents in the Longwood Grove neighborhood located across the street from the Baron Cameron OLDA [off-leash dog area],” wrote attorney Zachary Williams of the firm Bean, Kinney & Korman. “The operation of this dog park has caused these residents to suffer constant and excessive nuisance noise for many years.”

More from Williams:

Barking dogs at the dog park continue to seriously impact the quality of life for my clients on a daily basis. Incessant barking regularly awakens my clients in the early morning hours and continues throughout the day and evening. In recognition of this problem, the Park Authority recently installed noise mitigation fencing around a portion of the dog park in an attempt to dampen the noise. Unfortunately, the new fencing has had little effect on the impact of the dog park noise for my clients.

At this time, my clients firmly believe that the only way to fix this problem is to close and/or move the Baron Cameron dog park to a new location. Given the ongoing Baron Cameron Master Plan revision process, now is an opportune time to close the dog park so that this area of Baron Cameron Park can be redeveloped in a manner that is compatible with surrounding neighborhoods.

Williams, who did not return phone calls from Reston Now, said the residents have been expressing concerns to Reston Dogs and the park authority for years and have now run out of patience.

Baron Cameron Park is in the midst of a new master plan process, which could add more features to the park as well as change the configuration. One conceptual plan has the dog park moving to a spot farther into the interior of the park. Some residents of the same Longwood Grove neighborhood have also been outspoken against the idea of building an indoor recreation center with a 50-meter-pool in the park. They cite noise, traffic issues and loss of green space among their concerns.

Park Authority Chair Bill Bouie, a Reston resident, says the county has listened to the affected residents and installed the noise-reducing fencing. He also said the county has done its own tests and found no measurable noise coming from the park.

“The traffic noise on Wiehle is louder than the dog noise,” said Bouie.

The dog park regulars agree. On a recent Tuesday morning, about a half-dozen dogs rolled and played in the snow with only an occasional bark. One owner, a dog park regular, said the scene was “very normal.”

“When a dog barks, most owners are on it,” said Matt Taylor, there with his dog Pebbles. “There is going to be a certain amount of barking at a dog park, though.”

John Vockley, also a daily park visitor with his mixed breed, Taylor, says the dog run is just not that close to the homes.

“Those homes are across a main street,'” he said. “I can’t tell what they are hearing that is so loud and onerous they can’t deal with it. I think there is nothing in the park that rises to the county’s excessive noise ordinance level.”

  • LesAnn620

    This is a huge bummer. My dog would be so sad if we can’t go to the park. There’s plenty of dog parks in other communities in NoVA that are way closer to neighbors than this and there’s never been a suit like this. I live across the street from the hospital and the police station — there’s tons of sirens. I’m not going to sue over it. You get used to it and deal. I moved here knowing that would be something we would have to live with. My downstairs neighbor has a dog that barks incessantly. You get used to it and learn to shut it out. Jeez, even when that dog is barking it doesn’t wake me up anymore and he’s right below us. This is really cruddy. 🙁

    • vdiv

      I’d call the cops on your neighbors every time the dog barks — it is completely unacceptable. That said this is why the dog park is a good idea. Maybe they can build a sound barrier around it.

      • cnicola27 .

        lazy people like you cost me money because as soon as you dont like something you “call the cops”… ever heard of dealing with something yourself?

        • LD

          I have had the same issue with my neighbor’s dog barking. I’ve talked to them several times – they insist it’s not their dog. The dog is left out at 11pm and at 5am & barks at least for 1/2hr each time. Whom do I contact? You want to come over & take care of it? or should the cops?

          • doggydaddy

            I’ve had the police caled on me because of my dogs ‘incessant’ barking and it was NOT my dog but the ones that live behind me. And there is nothing the police can do because it is non-emergency and by the time they visit the incident is past. A better alternative would be to call animal control if you must call. But please make sure you get your facts straight.

          • Janis Jackson

            Get video and audio to show animal Control. It all the proof they need.

          • Janis Jackson

            Do you have an HOA where you live? Contact them. Make a recording on your phone of the barking to show that the dog is barking because of the neglect of its owners, call Animal Control and they will come out right away or the very next day, show it to them, They will go to the neighbors and clear up the issue of what’s lawful and what’s not. They’ll do it again, make another recording and show it to the animal control again. Send both recordings to your HOA and tell them you tried to work it out with the law and with them in the past. The burden of proof is on you so get those recordings – video and audio! Animal control will issue them a ticket to pay the second time. Good Luck.

        • Dexter Scott

          Worked for George Zimmerman…. oh wait.

      • LesAnn620

        Eh. It’s a breed thing. It’s a yappy little Pomeranian. I mean, he barks when he’s inside. He barks when he’s outside. He just barks a lot. If I called the cops every time it happened they’d ban me from calling them within three days. I don’t mind it much anymore. When I worked from home it sucked.

    • Barbara Goddard

      Yes he does sometimes but sometimes it’s because he hears Gordy howling for hours while you are gone out .

      • LesAnn620

        I barely notice it anymore Barb. And Bear is a sweet dog. 🙂 I just see it as a cost of living in multi family style housing.

  • kcowing

    “No measurable noise coming from the park”? I beg to differ. I do not live in the neighborhood nor do I own a dog. But when you walk on the path up and down Wiehle Ave you most certainly can hear dogs barking – loudly – more than a block away.

    • kcowing

      I just walked by there again a few minutes ago and could hear barking a block away. I have no issue with this dog park (it has to go somewhere) but statements to the effect that there is “no measurable noise” are simply incorrect. Of course, the traffic is even louder 😉 So … why aren’t they suing over traffic noise? Just wondering.

      • Jason Fraser

        The “bark park” does NOT “have to go somewhere.” If people don’t have room on their own property to accommodate their dogs, then they should not own dogs.

  • Dexter Scott

    Are those naughty doggies commanding you to kill people again?

    • RK

      seriously that made me snort I was laughing so hard.

  • John Keady

    The dogs that are illegally playing in the Reston North park bark louder than the dogs I’ve seen at the dog park. I’ve been to the park many times and the noise level is substantially lower than the noise I get from the Home Depot not far from my home. People need to tone down the crank level

    • Jason Fraser

      Dog-owners need to take care of their own fleabags and stop expecting the taxpayers to provide a place for their 4-legged noise-makers to play. If a person doesn’t have enough room for their dog to exercise, no one is forcing them to own a dog!

  • David


  • Julie M

    I must say that I’m pretty perplexed and appalled by the individuals looking to sue. Let’s see…You have a residence in a densely housed, well-populated area that is next to a
    major, highly trafficked four lane road and across from a large, multi-acre park. Where does this expectation of ZERO environmental noise come from?? I could be sympathetic of the folks complaining lived in an idyllic country-setting in the middle of nowhere but unfortunately, this is clearly NOT the case. I have been to the dog park at different times throughout the day (as early as 7am and late as 8pm) and while yes, dogs do bark from time to time and cause an audible level of sound, it is not at an unreasonable rate or level for the environment. I think that these cranky Reston curmudgeons need to take a look at what they bought into, reevaluate their unrealistic expectations, and stop complaining for the sake of complaining.

    • Fin

      Any amount of continued barking is unacceptable. Normal noises such as traffic, lawn mowers, weed eaters, children playing is expected and doesn’t last (except for traffic) all day long. Dog barking is a nuisance and people who let their dogs, yes dogs, they’re not your furry kids, bark, are self centered and rude! I have a dog, indoors, she doesn’t bark when she goes out.

      • Janis Jackson

        Whoops! Virginia law states that dogs can bark if it is not excessive and unreasonable barking. For instance your dog is in your backyard and someone is walking close to your fence. You dog can legally bark. On the other hand, if you park your dog in the backyard for hours and he’s frustrated to be there and barks inconsolably then that a nuisance. See the difference? It only goes to reason that there might be a few barks coming from a dog park…. Well to a reasonable, common sense person.

    • Janis Jackson

      I think you’re right Julie…an acceptable level of noise comes from that dog park. I just looked at the area on Google Maps and it seems like a nice buffer of trees line both sides of the street. Longwood Grove is just looking for a quick buck!

  • Barb

    If you live on a very busy street, across the street from a major community park, you need to expect some noise. Filing a lawsuit, really?? Come on people, stop the madness.

    • Mike M


    • Jason Fraser

      The “bark park” wasn’t there when these people built their houses.

  • Billy Smith

    Is it just me or does No. Reston go legal a lot?

    • Mike M

      Let’s just say it’s in the D (as in in Democratic) NA.
      (No. I am not a Republican.)

  • GJ

    This was based on a private letter that has not been made available to the public.

    • LesAnn620

      Usually once a suit is filed with the county most of the information is made public. You can request the information and they’ll give it to you. Sort of like how you can look up anyone’s traffic tickets on the court system’s website.

      • Karen Goff

        Has not been filed yet, but was sent to me.

      • Jason Fraser

        If a lawsuit is filed, it becomes a matter of public record and all one has to do is go to the courthouse and request the file.

    • Karen Goff

      Well, it’s been made public now.

  • Jason Fraser

    “The traffic noise on Wiehle is louder than the dog noise,” said Bouie.

    The noise created by traffic and that created by barking dogs are two entirely different types of noise. It is equivalent to comparing the noise of a TV or radio playing in the background to someone using a jackhammer on your patio! It isn’t the decibel, it is the “type” noise that is an irritant. It has been proven that exposure to certain noises causes stress, which can result in illness. Scientists studying the effect of barking dogs on humans have found that when a dog (or dogs) start barking, a person feels a small “jump” and becomes tense, a result of the speeding up of the autonomic nervous system. As the barking continues, the tension increases and people have been known to “snap” because of constantly barking dogs. All one has to do is read the news about confrontations between people regarding barking dogs, some of which have resulted in death.

    Bill Bouie: Please tell us when was the last time someone “snapped” because of “traffic noise”?

    • Fin

      I agree with you. Dog barking is THE most annoying sound! I can’t understand how neighbors can be so rude and let their dogs bark non stop for hours. My neighbor puts “cujo” out at 5 am and of course he has to get those few barks in to make sure everyone is awake! Dogs that bark are obviously bored and apparently being neglected and not getting exercised. If you don’t have time for a dog, don’t get one. Leaving them tied up in the yard is just mean!

  • Janis Jackson

    I think the park, the dogs and the noise would be grandfather’s in. Why did the residents move there if they didn’t like the surroundings? I don’t like people who don’t like dogs!

  • Janis Jackson

    Is the name the Bark Park? Change the name. It gives owners the false sense of rightfulness that dogs barking is okay. If you have one of the dogs that consistently barks don’t go to this dog park. Take it out to the county where no one can hear it or teach it not to bark. Use an e-collar for bark control. Used properly they do work well.

  • Larry

    Peace and love. Can’t we just all be friends! Dogs are “people” too They are man’s best friend. Cheers my friends — warm holiday wishes to all!


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