Tonawanda News — A 77-year-old Town of Tonawanda resident, Barbara Creighton, spent her first night in jail Friday after failing to control her barking dogs, according to police. Neighbors have been complaining about the issue since January of 2009.
“Normally, we let them know, and we talk to them about it, and they stop doing it,” Lt. Nick Bado said. “There’s a local ordinance that prohibits this kind of thing. The average person just says ‘sorry.’ “
But Creighton, who has lived a 315 Zimmerman Ave. for close to three decades, has reportedly let her dogs out time and time again at 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. According to neighbors and police, they bark for hours.
Town of Tonawanda Animal Control has issued Creighton appearance tickets, and Creighton has been in court 30 times as a result. The penalty is up to $250 in fines or 15 days in jail, according to Bado.
The judge started Creighton’s fine at $50 and increased it slowly throughout the past three and a half years. She’s paid $2,000 in fines in total since the beginning of 2009.
“She was in court this week, and the judge said, ‘I don’t know what it’s going to take,’” Bado said. “So the judge sentenced her to one day in jail.”
Creighton was scheduled to report to the Alden Correctional Facility at 6 p.m. Friday, and she will be released at 5 p.m. today.
But Creighton vehemently denied that she lets her dogs, Shadow, a 13-year-old golden retriever mix, and Lacey, a 6-year-old border collie, outside that late at night.
“Maybe they are out until 11 p.m.,” Creighton said. “But not after that. I go to bed at 10:30 p.m. on the weekdays, and they are in the bedroom with me. So unless they are unlocking the door by themselves and relocking it when they come back in, there’s no way they are getting out.”
Creighton believes the sentence was much too harsh. She said she’s never gotten a ticket before this issue began in 2009, and has been only in court once before, for her divorce 30 years ago.
“Listening to people on the radio this morning and on Facebook, nobody has believed this or the judge,” Creighton said. “I think this is very, very out of line.”
Creighton blames the majority of the complaints on one neighbor. According to Creighton, she often sits outside and watches Creighton’s house.
“I’m not scared of jail, I should be able to be protected there,” Creighton said. “But I am more scared of the neighbor.”
However, police say that they investigated the issue, and officers and Animal Control witnessed the barking themselves.
“She made herself out to be the victim,” Bado said. “She said neighbors were harassing her, so our officers went and listened for themselves to make sure they were actually barking in the middle of the night — and they were.”
Creighton did have an attorney at one point, and Creighton agreed to have the dogs wear bark collars. Bado said there was a reprieve for a period of time — but it didn’t last.
“I was running out of money after being fined so many times,” Creighton said. “I’m just beside myself right now.”Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150.