SADDLE RIVER — A North Jersey community is the latest to crack down on excessive dog barking, with proposed tougher penalties for pet owners who are repeat offenders.

An updated ordinance in Saddle River would prohibit "loud, continuous barking for over 20 minutes" during the day, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. During overnight hours, 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., the grace period is five minutes shorter at 15 minutes.

According to the proposed ordinance, dog owners who violate the noise restrictions could face fines ranging between $100 and $1,000.  Chronic offenders could face a community service sentence or prison time.

Saddle River Mayor AL Kurpis said the community is "just updating ordinances, which we routinely do."

A public hearing and final vote are scheduled for March 18.

The current ordinance, listed online by Saddle River police, has been much more vague in potential enforcement, as it says "No person shall keep any animal which causes frequent or long-continued loud and raucous noises so as to disturb the comfort or repose of any person in the vicinity."

New Jersey State League of Municipalities staff attorney Frank Marshall said the proposed penalties were in line with other local ordinances already on the books across the state.

Marshall said the penalties typically involve either a fine not exceeding $1,000 and/or community service for a period not exceeding 90 days.

Other communities also list the potential penalty of imprisonment for any term not exceeding 90 days.

A similar measure in South Plainfield has a much shorter clock when it comes to dogs potentially violating the local noise ordinance.

The Middlesex County borough says "a dog which barks or cries continuously for periods of five minutes at a time" would be considered as habitually barking or crying. Penalties in South Plainfield can involve a fine "not to exceed $2,000, a term of imprisonment not to exceed 90 days or a period of community service not to exceed 90 days."

Residents unsure of their own local noise ordinances regarding dog barking can contact their municipal administrator's office or local police for more information.

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