State Appeals Court hears animal ordinance case
Posted January 15, 2009
Nashville, N.C. — The North Carolina Court of Appeals on Thursday heard a case involving a pet ordinance that a Nashville dog owner says is unconstitutional.
Adele Maynard was charged and convicted in 2006 of violating the town's rule, which allows three pets per household. Maynard has six collies and lives in a home her family has owned for generations.
"They're quiet. They're nice. They're mannerly," Maynard, 63, said. "There's not a thing wrong with them."
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.
"(The ordinance) doesn't say anything about the size of the dogs, the propensity of the dogs, the way the dogs are kept," Reade said.
But an attorney representing the town argued in court Thursday that it limits the number of dogs to protect all of its citizens. Town leaders believe they acted responsibly and within their rights.
State law allows municipalities to limit the number of pets, regardless of whether the animals prove to be a public nuisance.
If the Court of Appeals agrees that limiting the number of dogs is unconstitutional, the ruling could overturn all similar pet ordinances throughout North Carolina.
If they side with the town, Maynard would have to give up some dogs or face fines and jail time.
"I'm not going to give up the dogs," Maynard said. "I would have to move first."
There are no immediate rulings in the state appellate court. The panel of judges will now consider the issue and discuss what they heard Thursday. It could be weeks or months before they make a decision.