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State Appeals Court to hear animal ordinance case

Posted December 17, 2008
Updated January 15, 2009

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— The North Carolina Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear a case next month in which a woman facing criminal charges for having too many dogs claims a Nashville town ordinance about pet ownership is unconstitutional.

Adele Maynard was charged and convicted in 2006 for violating the Nashville rule, which allows three pets per household. Neighbors had complained about her six dogs barking.

Her attorney, Daniel Reade, says that just limiting the number of pets doesn't really address the issue – which he says is whether the dogs are noisy or dangerous.

Reade says his client's dogs are not. The ordinance, he says, is unfair.

"If you have a woman who has four chihuahuas that stay inside, she's in violation of the ordinance, whereas someone with two large Dobermans, which are allowed to run loose, are technically in compliance," he said.

State law allows municipalities to limit the number of pets, regardless of whether the animals prove to be a public nuisance.

If she loses the appeal, Reade said Maynard could have to give up some of her dogs and spend 10 days in jail. But if the Court of Appeals rules in her favor, it could overturn many animal ordinances throughout the state.

"I think this case will have a big impact on how towns regulate what is a growing thing, which is pet ownership," Reade said.

Nashville's attorney says the town stands by its ordinance and believes there is nothing unconstitutional about it. Some places, such as Raleigh, have no ordinance limiting the number of dogs someone can have.

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  • cocker_mom Dec 18, 2008

    I spoke to someone in Raleigh to confirm that there were no limits - they (rightly) said that there are already laws on the books to cover noise, dogs roaming free, aggressive dogs and sanitation issues, so there was no need to pass an arbitrary ordinance that does not address the real issues. Bravo for them!

  • ohmygosh Dec 18, 2008

    Where is the right to own a pack of dogs in the constitution?

    Pet lovers don't get it. Dog howls might be music to their ears but to everybody else its just plain noise. One barks, they all bark. Regulating noise to ensure tranquility for neighbors is a legit gov't function. Dog barking does real harm (ask the sleep deprivation experts)as does feline catawalling.

    The key is moderation. Clearly somebody with 6 dogs in a subdivision lacks any sense of moderation and common sense.

  • ice cream Dec 17, 2008

    Could have an EFFECT, not an AFFECT. Yes, I know there is an obscure alter-usage but I hardly think that's the case here.

    Learn how to spell, WRAL!!!!!!!

  • tiggers Dec 17, 2008

    I agree freedomrings... another example of big brother trying to invade in our personal rights and freedoms. Not bad enough they tax us to death and move our kids from school to school... now they want to try to tell us how many animals we can have?!? If the animals are well cared for and in a safe environment than I say more power to her. I hate excessive barking, but I would prefer that to the dogs that are allowed to run loose in my neighborhood. I was confronted by one just this afternoon. The police are no help. They say if the owner can prove they have the appropriate vaccinations and the animals haven't attacked anyone (no matter how aggressive they are) than they can't do anything - and we have a leash law in my county. I saw stop bothering those who care for thier animals - no matter how many they have - and get tho irresponsible owners who allow thier pets to roam free waiting to attack at will.
    More power to the lady in this article. Fight it to the last letter of the law!

  • kittiboo Dec 17, 2008

    I hope she wins. While I don't like barking dogs at all hours, there should be a better way to keep nusiance behavior at bay that does not involve limiting pets. I have 3 cats and a dog, all of whom stay indoors, and if I lived in her town I'd be in trouble. But I sure wouldn't give any of them up! You can have ONE dog who is neglected and left outside to bark nonstop because he is bored. Limiting pets doesn't solve any problems.

  • freedomrings Dec 17, 2008

    Another example of big government. I have a foster dog and 6 puppies. Am I in violation now? The government has no place in my private property.

    I went to the nail salon and learned a new law had been passed. Nail salons have to use a new file and buffer for each client despite clients being required to scrub and sanitize their hands. Who passes these laws? Is there a file and buffer committee somewhere?

    Government needs to stay out and trust that most people have enough common sense to get it right.