City installs acoustic screen after neighboring company uses air horn to reduce barking

Washougal responds to noise complaints at dog shelter

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Tamara Scharfenkamp, executive director of the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society, plays ball Friday with Kira, a 4-year old female terrier mix available for adoption, in November. A dispute over noise between the Humane Society and its construction firm neighbor continues even after city of Washougal employees installed an Acoustifence screen around part of the dog shelter to reduce the noise level.

In an effort to reduce the sounds of dogs barking and a nearby air horn activating, City of Washougal employees have installed an acoustic screen around part of the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society dog shelter.

The cost of the Acoustifence screen, $3,500 plus delivery and tax, was paid from the city’s animal control budget for building maintenance and the building capital facilities fund, according to City Administrator David Scott. The installation of the screen occurred Thursday and Friday.

Washougal Police Chief Ron Mitchell said Thursday the city was working on reducing the noise levels coming from the kennel. By that time, someone from the shelter’s neighbor, Northwest Underwater Construction LLC, had told Mitchell they would remove the air horn.

The company installed an air horn on its property, to discourage barking by the shelter dogs.

Eric Muller, Northwest Underwater Construction director of sales and marketing, said “no comment,” when asked Friday whether the sound of dogs barking had impacted the business or its employees.

“We donated money to the shelter, but that did not take care of it,” he said.

The $292.55 donation paid for the purchase of three citronella collars in an attempt to quiet the dogs, according to WCGHS board secretary Mark Fruechtel.

“One collar broke,” he said this morning. “They would go off without even being on the dogs. One dog had a reaction to the collar, which cost us a vet bill. They do not work, especially in a kennel situation.

“This is a dog shelter,” Fruechtel added. “They bark when people first get there. Once they are walked and get some attention, they are fairly quiet. I was there 90 minutes yesterday, and there was less that 10 minutes of barking.”

He called the police Monday when the air horn sounded.

“There were no trucks or other noise, and the horn just kept going off every 20 seconds,” Fruechtel said. “The horn has no effect on the dogs other than stressing them. Its only real effect is stressing out volunteers, employees and cats.”

The WCGHS dog and cat shelters are located at 2695 S. Index St., in the Port of Camas-Washougal Industrial Park.

During the Nov. 5 Washougal City Council meeting, Fruechtel said the air horn went off when trucks drove by.

“It is borderline harassment,” he said. “If you move next to a dog shelter, there will be dogs barking occasionally.”

Fruechtel said volunteers could install a sound abatement wall “to deaden the sound.”

“I’m trying to be proactive and have everyone get along,” he added.