ARGUMENT FOR CHALLENGING PET
(To view the two most recent newspaper articles regarding my court battle, see below)
This page is regarding a legal battle with Mohave County AZ on a constitutional issue that is quite controversial. I'm challenging the constitutionality of Mohave County's 'PET LIMIT LAW' for which I will appear in court for the third time on Sept 20, 2006. These laws have been challenged and successfully overturned or repealed in over 1,000 cities, counties and even three states over the past 5 years alone.
This particular pet limit law is in violation of the equal protection Claus. Pet limit laws takes property away with no due process. Pet limit laws do not have any rational basis. There is no reasonable basis for government intervention.
Because I have the desire, ability and resources to give one more homeless dog a wonderfully happy life, I have to appear in court and face a fine of $250 or 3 months in jail. It's a class 2 misdemeanor. So, I stand before the judge as an equal standing criminal as liquor store robbers, child molesters, drunk drivers with 5 priors or spousal abusers. THAT OFFENDS ME GREATLY!! God bless the poor souls who have 2 dogs over the limit.
The question in the instant case is whether the Mohave County Ordinance limiting personal ownership of domesticated animals to four or less violates a person’s right to own property. In Mohave County, “[a]n area in which five (5) or more dogs, cats, or other small animals are kept, maintained, trained, bred, boarded, or offered for sale, with or without compensation, and with or without outside runs and facilities” is defined as a “Kennel.” Mohave Co. Zoning Ordinance § 9. Mohave County regulates kennels such that: In the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the government is prohibited from depriving a person of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The Mohave County zoning ordinances are an overbroad regulation of animal ownership and violate an individual’s constitutional right to own property.
The established rule to determine the validity of an ordinance is whether the ordinance is “rationally related to a legitimate” government interest. City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 U.S. 432, 440 (U.S. 1985). No purpose or goal for the Mohave County’s intrusion on a person’s property rights is provided in the zoning ordinances. Therefore, the defining of a kennel is the only expressed government interest in the regulation of animal ownership.
This law directly affects each resident in the county and is responsible for killing upwards of 40% of the pets we now destroy in Mohave County each year. Simply due to an arbitrary and invasive law by the county to control what property we are allowed to own in their minds - not based nor supported by the constitution.
The common definition of a kennel is “an establishment where dogs are bred, trained, or boarded.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition. A kennel is commonly a commercial undertaking for the purpose of temporarily caring for other people’s animals. Simple private ownership of five or more dogs, or any number of animals for that matter, does not meet the common definition of a kennel.
There is no legitimate government interest in defining any area with five or more dogs as a kennel. Mohave County’s definition of “kennel” equating private animal ownership with the commercial practice of “kenneling” animals is not a legitimate government interest, nor is it rationally related to one. In fact, defining private ownership of five or more dogs is an unacceptable interference with a person’s constitutional right to property.
Nor can it be argued that Mohave County’s definition of “kennel” furthers the government’s interest in preventing nuisance. No rational relationship to can be made between a “kennel” and the prevention of nuisance. The presence of a kennel with five or more animals has as much, if not more, potential to be a nuisance as private ownership of five or more animals. No empirical evidence exists to supports the idea that a legislatively created “kennel” would reduce any level of nuisance that otherwise would occur without such government regulation.
The day I appeared for the arraignment, there was a full court room. At a minimum, 85% of all who approached the bench, were there for ''one dog over the limit' charges. $250 fine or 4 months in jail. DOES THE PUBLIC REALIZE HOW MANY DOGS WE ARE KILLING DUE TO THESE ARBITRARY AND INVASIVE LAWS????? We are actually preventing the county from having to kill them at tax payers expense!!!
Knowing that Pet Limit laws prevent good people from caring for good pets, these laws condemn many animals to an unnecessary death. Seeing as though Mohave County Animal Control is extremely strapped for funds and is having difficulty in keeping up with the increasing number of calls, cannot afford to hire the necessary officers, nor equipment, have very limited access to computers to help place the animals in their care and by no means are doing any prevention or humane education programs, it would seem logical for them to consider what so many other communities ( including Bullhead City in the same county ) to allow those who live in rural areas and wish to have more than 4 pets, (but do not breed, board, or rescue,) to do the responsible thing and be allowed to care for more than 4 pets without the threat of standing next to those who drive drunk, rob convenience stores or beat their wives as if we were an equal standing criminal. I don't breed, I don't do rescue - I just want to keep my 5 dogs.
( It may be of interest to some, to see
the last court battle I was embroiled in Riverside
County CA where the county tried for four years to
convict me of an infraction but failed. 4 years
and 43 court appearances and I walked away with a clean
which is a sampling of the worldwide coverage I received
for winning this ignorant battle. Then don't
forget to watch the 7 min documentary film by George
Lucas' film Company regarding the entire situation also.
The Mohave County limitation on animal ownership is not analogous to statutes and ordinances in other States that have been determined to be constitutional. See, e.g., Holt v. Sauk Rapids, 559 N.W.2d 444 (Minn.Ct.App. 1997); Gates v. City of Sanford, 566 So.2d 47 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App. 1990); Village of Carpentersville v. Fiala, 425 N.E.2d 33 (Ill. 1981), cert. denied, 456 U.S. 990, 102 S.Ct. 2271. These laws in other states are all related to more dense residential areas. The basis for upholding these laws came expressly from the need to regulate public health and safety and/or nuisances. In the instant case, the five dogs are housed in a remote rural area. The dogs do not constitute an overabundance of animals in a residential area, as in Gates. The few surrounding neighbors have all provided letters indicating that the dogs do not constitute a nuisance.
An illustrative analysis of the regulation of nuisance through laws limiting animal ownership appears in the Pennsylvania case, Commonwealth v. Creighton, 639 A.2d 1296 (Pa.Cmwlth. 1994). The governmental interest asserted in Creighton was the regulation of nuisances. Id. at 1299. The Court in Creighton determined that the government cannot justify regulation of animal ownership simply based on the existing condition of animal ownership. Id. This would be regulation of a condition as negligence per se. Id. In order to justify limiting a person’s property right to own animals, the government must show that there is a “nuisance in fact.” Id.
In the instant case, the Mohave County ordinance, if based on regulation of nuisance, does not establish any methods for determining the existence of a nuisance. Therefore, the ordinance would be regulation of a condition as negligence per se. Mr. Warner’s ownership of the five dogs does not constitute a nuisance, as shown in letters from Mr. Warner’s surrounding neighbors. Therefore, his ownership of five dogs on a rural property 2.25 acres in size is not a nuisance in fact.
Moreover, the court in Creighton determined that an overbroad limitation on a person’s property right to own animals is not justifiable. Creighton, 639 A.2d at 1300 (“[E]ven legitimate legislative goals cannot be pursued by means which stifle fundamental personal liberty when the goals can be otherwise more reasonably achieved.”). Mohave County Animal Control, separate from the improper “kennel” regulation, has the authority to regulate potential nuisances that can manifest from private animal ownership, such as excessive noise, loose animals, unsafe or unhealthy conditions, etc. The overbroad limitation of private ownership of animals is an infringement that is both unfair and unconstitutional.
I totally understand that many who have larger numbers
of pets cannot appropriately provide for the number
they happen to have. There are just as many, if not
more, that could easily offer the proper care, loving
and containment necessary for a group of happy,
healthy pets and not be burdened financially. Thus,
saving the lives of countless pets who would otherwise
die an unnecessary death. But, we already have laws on
the books dealing with issues surrounding barking,
biting, clean yards free of feces, etc. No correlation
what so ever to the number of pets at one given home.
The Mohave County ordinances defining the private
ownership of five or more dogs, cats, or other small
animals as a kennel, and requiring a permit for a
kennel, is not rationally related to a legitimate
government interest. The private ownership of five dogs
in a remote rural area does not constitute an
overabundance of animals in a residential area. Nor
does the existence of five dogs on 2.25 acres of rural
property constitute a nuisance. Therefore, the Mohave
County ordinance is a violation of an individual’s