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Solving animal-related disputes among neighbors

While people have a right to own animals, they also have a responsibility to keep their pets or livestock from injuring or becoming a nuisance to their neighbors. California residents who are having an animal-related dispute with their neighbors know how frustrating it can be.

People can be held liable when their pets or livestock cause trouble to their neighbors, such as if their dog bites a neighbor, or their chickens, cows or other farm animals wander onto their neighbor's property and cause damage. Unless a livestock owner lives in a county where there are open range laws, the owner is required by law to fence in his or her property to confine livestock. If the livestock breaks through the fence and damages a neighboring property, the owner might be held liable if it is determined that the animal escaped because of the owner's negligence.

Pet hoarding is another issue that may affect neighbors. If the pets are excessively noisy, the pet owner may be violating the city or town's noise ordinance. Likewise, owning a large amount of pets could lead to unsanitary conditions and poor care for the pets, and a person who has too many pets may not be in compliance with zoning and health codes.

Homeowner disputes involving animals can quickly turn nasty. When the issue revolves around a dog biting a neighbor and causing harm, attorneys might remind their clients that California is a strict liability state when it comes to these matters, and owners will be financially responsible for medical expenses and other costs incurred by the victim.

Source: Findlaw, "Neighbor Animal Disputes", accessed on Nov. 2, 2016

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