LawCall - Legal Call In ShowThat is what an Oregon couple wants to know after a judge ordered them to have their dog’s vocal chords cut.  The trouble began when neighbors complained of the constant barking of Karen Szewc”s and John Updegraff’s Tibetan Mastiffs.

We have covered this case before, but now the Oregon Court of Appeals has upheld the lower court’s order, and the couple must take action.

The large dogs were used to protect their farm’s sheep from predators. The dogs are bred to protect home and property, and are known to bark a lot. The neighbors grew tired of the “constant barking” and filed a lawsuit.

But the Kreins weren’t the first neighbors to file a lawsuit against the couple. In 2004 and 2005, Jackson County cited Szewc for violating a county code provision on public nuisance.  The code prohibits dogs from barking frequently and at length, according to the lawsuit.

Szewc argued that the code did not apply to her because she and her husband own a farm, and according to Szewc, farms fall under different ordinances. The couple’s farm is three to four acres, and they raise sheep, chicken and goats.

The Jackson County circuit court rejected the claim and ordered the couple to pay $400 and to de-bark two of the dogs. The couple continued to argue their point in court, refusing to pay the fine or to de-bark the dogs.

Szewc says that she is using a passive way to protect her livestock. “The next line of defense is a gun. I don’t need to use a gun if I can protect my sheep with dogs.”

Now, the Oregon Court of Appeals has upheld the decision that the couple is not running a farm, and they are ordered to de-bark the dogs.

De-barking a dog is a surgical procedure in which parts of the dog’s vocal chords are cut to reduce the loudness of the bark, or to entirely eliminate the dog’s ability to bark. The procedure is partially prohibited in six states.

What would you do if ordered to de-bark your dog? Needless to say, animal rights activists are furious over the court’s decision.

If you have legal questions, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.

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