DEAR BARRY: My neighbor’s dogs inhabit a small chain-link enclosure, located behind my backyard fence. I don’t believe anyone ever cleans this area, and the accumulated filth creates an unbearable stench. On days when I’m downwind, I don’t dare open a window.

Complaints to the owners have only produced anger and unfriendliness. They just warn me to mind my own business. To complicate matters, I’m now preparing to sell my home and am afraid that this unsanitary condition will deter buyers. What, if anything, can be done to convince my neighbors to eliminate this problem? –Wayne

DEAR WAYNE: Your neighbors are apparently not eligible for the pet owners’ good citizenship award. Hopefully, the public nuisance they have created will arouse the dissatisfaction of the municipal authorities in your area. Aside from the practice of cruelty to animals, your neighbors are generating a potential health hazard.

If these miscreants refuse to correct these conditions in a decent and acceptable manner, you can report them to the animal control department, the health department, and the district attorney’s office. In all likelihood, these complaints should motivate some form of positive response, and that will aid you in the marketing of your home. More importantly, it should help to eliminate a disgraceful condition for which there is no reasonable excuse.

As an aside: I heard a tale about a person who complained about a neighbor who kept a dog in the same filthy, neglected conditions that you have described. One day, when the neighbor was away, someone apparently took the liberty of finding a good home for the dog. That week, the neighbor reportedly received the following letter:

"Dear Former Dog Owner,

"You will be pleased to know that your dog now has an excellent home. You will be happy, as well, to know that he now enjoys the following advantages:

"1. Each day he receives the attention of a family who plays with him and cares for him, rather than waiting for meager attention that never arrives.

"2. He now inhabits a large, clean yard where he can run free and explore the bushes, rather than lingering in a filthy circle at the end of a short chain.

"3. Now he can drink from a bowl of fresh water, always at his disposal, rather than hoping for someone to fill the one that is overturned in the rank dust.

"If you choose to acquire another dog, be assured that we will gladly find a good home for him as well.
–Your neighbor"

(Of course, I can’t advocate for stealing pets so this seemed an extreme example of vigilante justice!)

DEAR BARRY: The crawl space under our house was recently flooded. We’ve been running fans for days to dry things out and keep from getting moldy. Do you think this is sufficient? –Millie

DEAR MILLIE: As long as the fans prevent moisture condensation under the house, you should be OK as far as mold is concerned. Once the ground is dry enough under the building, have the crawl space professionally inspected for mold and for other moisture-related damage. An evaluation of site drainage conditions is also recommended to prevent future flooding.

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