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The Villages
Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Farm dogs in Sumter County lose exemption from public nuisance complaints

A mooing cow in rural Sumter County no longer is treated the same as a barking dog.

No matter how much they may howl about it, farm dogs lost their exemption from public nuisance complaints after action Tuesday night by Sumter County commissioners.

The county’s public nuisance ordinance exempted all animals on land zoned agricultural from noise complaints, which meant that farm dogs, unlike city and suburban canines, could bark, whine or howl as long and as loud as they wanted without restriction.

An amendment to the public nuisance ordinance approved by commissioners now will exempt only livestock or animals utilized in a farm operation.

The change allows the sheriff’s office to investigate barking dog complaints regardless of zoning.

Dirty dogs also are at risk.

“It shall be considered a nuisance when the keeping of dogs, cats or other animals results in an offensive odor because of failure of the owner to clean the premises,” the ordinance amendment states.

Farm dogs still have a leg up on urban canines for two reasons.

If they are helping to herd sheep or cattle, they are considered “working dogs” and are exempt from the nuisance ordinance. Hunting and competition dogs also are exempt while they are being trained along with guide dogs for the blind.

Violations must be witnessed by a police officer or people living within 1,000 feet of the dog’s location so the distance of homes from a farm could be an advantage for rural canines.

Commissioners also voted to correct a contradiction in the noise ordinance that listed the maximum allowable level of both 60 and 75 decibels. They endorsed the lower number.

 

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