TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Town resident Barbara Creighton, 77, was sentenced Wednesday to 24 hours in jail for letting her dogs habitually bark, according to police.
But when Creighton was all ready to report to the Alden Correctional Facility Friday at 6 p.m., she was informed she wouldn't have to serve the sentence.
According to Lt. Nick Bado, for about three years Creighton has repeatedly violated a local ordinance that prohibits late-night dog barking.
Creighton, who has lived on Zimmerman Avenue for close to three decades, has appeared in court 30 times and has paid almost $2,000 in fines for not correcting the problem, according to police.
Bado said Town Justice Daniel T. Cavarello sentenced Creighton to a night in jail in a last-ditch effort to encourage her to comply with the ordinance.
But Acting Superintendent of the Erie County Correctional Facility Thomas Diina said the Certificate of Conviction received from the court indicated two dates of arrests, March 23 and July 4, that had to be applied to her punishment, so they couldn't legally hold her.
"She already had enough time to satisfy the terms of her sentence," Diina said.
Bado said, however, that Creighton was never arrested or in police custody, and that the issue concerned a paperwork problem that as of Friday, he believed the court was attempting to resolve.
But the Town Court Clerk said Monday there wasn't any issue remaining with the case and the office isn't working on it any further.
"It's up to the sheriff at the correctional facility to administer the sentence," the clerk said. "So it's completely up to them."
Creighton has repeatedly denied the allegations against her, arguing her dogs are rarely outside 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."
Creighton said the issue comes down to her neighbors harassing her and said she is afraid of one neighbor who has made many complaints.
But police and Animal Control have patrolled the area late at night and have witnessed the two-large, mixed breed dogs barking outside themselves, according to Bado.
"They bark pretty much continually," Bonnie Mikolajczak, Creighton's next door neighbor, said. "She's not an animal abuser as some people have said, and I've hesitated to make complaints. I don't think she should go to jail."
But Mikolajczak, who has been in court with Creighton, did say that the barking disrupts her eight-year-old son after 10 p.m. and occasionally in the middle of the night.
"He has special education needs, and he almost never gets a full night sleep," Mikolajczak said. "He will come downstairs and tell me that the dogs are keeping him awake."
Mikolajczak said she is disappointed that Creighton has allegedly lied about the dogs barking and her neighbors' behavior.
"All I really want is for her to keep the dog collars on with batteries," Mikolajczak said. "I'd never argue for jail or have her dogs be taken away from her. At this point, it's annoying, but it's just something I've accepted that I have to live with until I can move."
Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150.