Children and Dogs Must Abide by County Rules

     SACRAMENTO (CN) – Two children who want to walk their Dalmatians, Spot and Diamond, near a levy, but complain they are prevented from doing so by county ordinances, must abide by the rules, a federal judge ruled.



     The two are children of Herman Franck who is currently facing prosecution for violating two county ordinances that prohibit dogs from running “at large,” and from “habitually” making loud noises (barking) that constitute a public nuisance.
     U.S. Court Judge Lawrence Karlton said the children’s allegations amount to four arguments: “(1) the roaming ordinance violates the Supremacy Clause; (2) the roaming ordinance conflicts with the West Sacramento Municipal Code and thus violates the Due Process Clause; (3) the roaming ordinance acts as an unconstitutional taking since it deprives plaintiffs’ dogs from ‘their equal right to this earth;’ and (4) the barking ordinance is unconstitutionally vague.” Specifically, the Franck children say the area in which they want to walk their dogs is “public open space,” or property owned by the federal government. As a result, they say, only the federal government can issue regulations concerning the property.
     However, Judge Karlton said there is no evidence showing an authority of any kind that supports the idea that public open spaces are federal property.
     He also ruled that, “the court cannot discern how the ordinance is in conflict with the West Sacramento Municipal Code. It is entirely possible for plaintiffs to be in compliance with both laws. Thus, plaintiff has failed to state a due process claim.”
     Karlton also shot down allegations regarding the “takings” clause and didn’t buy the plaintiffs’ claim that the county’s barking ordinance is unconstitutionally vague.
     “Plaintiffs have cited no legal authority establishing dogs’ equal rights to the earth, nor any authority which prevents municipalities from diluting that right if established,” he said. “Further, the court has discovered no cases establishing that restrictions on where a person may allow his or her dog to roam free constitutes a taking prohibited under the Fifth Amendment.”
     As to Yolo County’s barking ordinance, Karlton said it “prohibits permitting a dog to bark ‘habitually, not ‘from time to time,’ as plaintiff asserts. Plaintiffs do not explain their vagueness argument, or provide any citations or analysis upon which this court could determine that a claim exists,” he said.
     Karlton dismissed the complaint with prejudice and denied the preliminary injunction as moot.

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