A couple in Oregon has been ordered by the Oregon Court of Appeals to have the vocal cords cut on their six dogs.
Karen Szewc and John Updegraff have Tibetan and Pyrenean Mastiffs that they used for protecting their livestock. If you’ve ever seen a mastiff, then you know they are are massive dogs that are extremely protective of the people they love.
Now the people in this dog and human relationship are being forced to ensure their dogs cannot bark (meaning they cannot warn the livestock of dangers) because their neighbors, Debra and Dale Krein, were annoyed of the barking.
The Oregon Humane Society said, “We are just shocked.” I am in the same boat with them!
The two households have been neighbors for nearly twenty years. The Kreins claim that beginning in 2002, the dogs started barking at about 5am every morning, and then wouldn’t stop
My thoughts: They’re dogs though….they’ll bark when they hear and see things.
The suit was filed 10 years later, with the Kreins alleging an auditory hell so bad their kids didn’t want to come home from school. Szewc and Updegraff reportedly did attempt to rectify the situation with methods including shock collars, to no avail.
A jury ruled in the Kreins’ favor in 2015; Szewc and Updegraff were ordered to pay the couple $238,000 and have their dogs undergo devocalization. The Appeals Court upheld that ruling.
Szewc and Updegraff had argued that the dogs were what kept their livestock—sheep, goats, and chickens on 3.4 acres—safe from predators. The Washington Post reports that as such, they argued the county’s public nuisance code didn’t apply as they were subject instead to farming ordinances.
But the AP in 2015 reported on the original ruling, which found Tibetan mastiffs aren’t a breed designed to guard livestock. It also cited the 2006 decision of a local hearings officer (related to a citation over the barking) who found the farm use defense was unavailable to the couple due to the small size and profits of their farming endeavors.
So would the ruling have been different if the couple had dogs that were specifically bred to be farm dogs? They likely chose the mastiffs because throughout history, they are known as impeccable guard dogs. They were taken into battle with the kings and are even known to have taken down elephants!
The Oregonian, reports that the couple did have one of their dogs “debarked” and it had a disastrous outcome.
A cougar ran off with six lambs in a single week, she said.
“That’s $3,000 of income,” Szewc said.
Considering they are only making $26,000 a year with their small farm, $3,000 is a lot of money!
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com