Local News

State Appeals Court to hear animal ordinance case

Posted December 17, 2008 7:09 p.m. EST
Updated January 15, 2009 4:50 p.m. EST

— 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.