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Two appellate case examples of Limit Laws that unfairly empower Animal Control, harm animal rescue groups, and assail the Constitutional Rights of dog owners.





Jan Flaherty, German Shorthair Pointer Rescue, has chosen to defend against unfair prosecution by San Diego Humane Officers.  Jan says a precedent-setting case is vital to all rescue groups and we agree.


San Diego: Sept. 2009 |


Flaherty states “For the last five months, I and the GSP rescue have been under attack by San Diego Animal Control for keeping too many dogs on my three acre ranch zoned for commercial use. The complaints against me arise from a visit by San Diego Humane, which officers represented they were present for an 'animal welfare check', unaffiliated with any law enforcement activity and not present for any other purpose than to verify care of the dogs. They were allowed entry, inspected, and noted upon departure that they found no conditions or reason for concern.



“Two weeks later, a San Diego Animal Control officer arrived with an 'anonymous' complaint that I was caring for more than the 6 dogs currently allowed in San Diego County without a commercial kennel permit. Again, I provided all records and information to the officer who was sympathetic and appreciative of our Rescue (but said) any violation determination would be up to animal control. I later was given a citation for too many dogs and not complying with rabies vaccines for older dogs.


“In cooperation with AC, I agreed to reduce numbers but asked exception for the very senior dogs who could not safely be vaccinated or placed in kennels elsewhere.”  Flaherty says that despite substantial compliance in reducing numbers, Animal Control decided to prosecute her.  It appears she was unwilling to “endanger or end the lives of our senior Shorthairs” by giving rabies booster and as she points out, “it would eliminate my constitutional protections … I believe that rescues must be recognized as partners by animal control… we should be 'defined' by applying terms which distinguish us from commercial boarding or breeding kennels.”  Flaherty therefore decided “to defend myself against these charges and stand up for other legitimate Rescues facing similar over-reaching situations by challenging their legality in Court.”


It is her contention that “rescues have been treated differently under existing laws by animal control when it suited them.”  She says that picking up Shorthairs at San Diego County Shelters helped them meet their goals but somehow, she is now considered a 'commercial kennel' for having rescued those dogs.


Rescues routinely get such calls on a regular basis and our response swells the numbers of 'adoptions' claimed by these shelters, thereby justifying their continued public funding and political power. In turn, Animal Control uses that power against rescues or individuals when it suits them.


Flaherty feels “this is our opportunity to promote and protect the entire Rescue community by setting a legal precedent which will require counties to develop a respectful policy by design reflecting the respect and cooperation which will keep us all viable.”


“My personal decision to challenge capricious regulation and arbitrary enforcement via unreasonable 'interpretations' of the law, is not without significant risk, great emotion and cost. We hope the legal precedent for a new 'sanctuary' or 'rescue' definition for appropriate rescues will be cited by other Rescues facing prosecution. However, this case will very likely lead to a long over-due revolution in relations between government agencies and Rescuers who are too often treated as outside the law.”


She pleads for people to “write letters, make phone calls and send emails to newspapers, TV stations and anyone else who might assist our cause.”  Shorthair rescue and Flaherty also need money to pay legal costs and “fight on behalf of other rescue organizations that suddenly find themselves over the limit, or in violation of some other regulation due to the work they do.”


Flaherty’s statement speaks for all rescue groups. “Legitimate rescues must be treated with respect and dignity; not subjected to capricious interpretations on the whim of a representative from a quasi government agency. This is where we can start.”


We will keep readers appraised on this case but in the meantime, do what you can and no matter what your breed or where you live, go to this link to send a donation to:






Downey Maynard and six retired collie show dogs live comfortably on property once owned by her grandparents.


North Carolina: Feb 2009

Courtroom observations by Fern St. Clair


Maynard's house is in town on 1.5 acres entirely fenced.  The dogs are full time house dogs.  Maynard states she has never had any dog problems until “The Neighbors From Hell moved in” and began to taunt her dogs and file complaints.


This common neighbor dispute evolved into three-part coverage, see links below. If you are having similar problems, you need to follow this story and learn!


Randy Gilbert sent a Letter to the local newspaper entitled “Small town = small minds.”  The letter, states in part, “I have personally witnessed the neighbor directly behind her aggravating the dogs to make them bark.  She (Maynard) has spent nearly $20,000 in landscaping in 2006/7 planting shrubs and vegetation around the fencing to be a screen to protect her dogs from the harassing neighbors.”


Collies will be collies, meaning they will bark but it takes something pretty exciting to get Maynard’s old dogs going.


But the Neighbors From Hell continued to complain.  Maynard said the Police Chief dispatched an officer to stake out her house to see how much the dogs barked.  Quite by coincidence, the neighbor called in a complaint against her dogs while the officer was patiently waiting to hear a dog bark.  Both the Chief Of Police and Animal Control testified on her behalf.  Maynard told us “The Health Department also testified for me, that everything was ‘spotless clean’ because that’s just the way I am.


Incredibly she was found guilty of violating the “10 P.M. quiet law because her dogs barked after 10 P.M.  Maynard insists that the only evidence against her was provided by the Neighbors From Hell.  Even that was refuted by another neighbor who testified that on one of the alleged occasions, she was sick and coughing so badly that she spent hours out on her porch and did not hear Maynard’s dogs barking.


Found guilty, Downey Maynard was ordered to get rid of her beloved but “excess” dogs.  She refused.  Maynard said Nashville (NC) is a very small town where the Mayor (only the second mayor in 50 years!) and none of the Council Members own pets.  She believes this facilitated arbitrary passage of the Dog Limit Law.


In states such as North Carolina, municipal law is the final word, unless one goes to appellate court.  Maynard explained “If the town orders everyone to paint their house pink then it is the law.”  The rational basis for what is appropriate is determined by the municipality.  A municipal law can be challenged on the basis of state constitutionality, capriciousness and a few other exceptions but as Ms. Maynard has discovered, it is not easy, quick, or inexpensive.


As Fern St. Clair observed in her report, “NC State Statutes say that municipalities can regulate animal use in a town -- that is, they have been given the power to say 'No dogs are allowed in Nashville', if they choose.  Period.  They might say 'No goats are allowed in Raleigh', and we have evolved to the point that we would accept that ordinance.


According to St. Clair, the three justices who finally heard the case in Appellate Court pointed out that most numbers we live by are 'arbitrary', such as speed limits, blood alcohol levels, etc.  However, Mr. Reid, Maynard’s Durham attorney, argued that setting an 'arbitrary' number for how many dogs are allowed per family was inappropriate and unconstitutional.  He said 6 little toy dogs could be kept inside and no one would know or care.  Alternatively, one or two noisy, potentially dangerous dogs kept out in a yard could be a threat to human health or safety. Reid also pointed out that dogs become 'family', and to say how many are allowed, on numbers alone, seems unfair.


Sitting in the appellate courtroom, St. Clair reports, “The justices seemed to appreciate that these 6 old dogs, well cared for and well behaved, present no threat to the health and safety of anyone.  Also that as society evolves, the way we think about our dogs changes, that is, today we care more about our dogs as family members, and not just as an outside farm animal.


Both sides referred to the fact that dogs are, at present, not given any kind of 'special' status, that is, they are just property.  Justice Stephens said we are the guardians of our dogs. I did not sense an AR threat from her. It seemed like all 3 justices were trying to figure out a way they could side with Downey so that she could keep her 6 dogs, because, they admitted, that made the most sense, and the best logic.


During the interview, Ms. Maynard was upbeat but frustrated, concerned for her dogs.  She had been sure the evidence was so overwhelming that the local court would find in her favor.  She is now less sure of the justice system but determined to keep all six of her elderly dogs.


Maynard Collie Case, Part 2 Neighbors accuse TheDogPress of bias and inaccurate reporting.


If you are under assault, see Dog Law case references: CA goes after disabled owner's service dogs and in yet another example of dog limit laws and rabid local politicians, see Little-Minded Littleton (CO) and save this oft-cited extensive reference: Rescue Raids: the crime of animal confiscation


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