Possible Zoning Restrictions on Keeping Animals

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Written By: Jeffrey JohnsonUPDATED: Jul 16, 2021Fact Checked

If you are considering housing an unusual or exotic pet, or have a large number of domesticated pets, you should examine your local zoning laws for any possible restrictions. Your zoning ordinance may control pet ownership by restricting pets based on your property location, the type of animal you keep, and the condition of the property and animals. Zoning laws in most areas do allow a reasonable number of domestic pets like dogs or cats, but may prohibit farm animals or exotic pets. If you are considering getting an unusual or exotic pet, or have accumulated a large number of domesticated pets, you should refer to your local zoning laws.

Restrictions Based on the Type of Animal

A zoning ordinance that restricts property owners from housing a specific type of animal can vary based on the nature of the animal and the location of the property. For example, a city zoning law will likely prevent a home or business from housing farm animals including chickens, pigs, or rabbits for either personal or professional purposes; whereas the same type of restriction will not exist in smaller towns or rural properties. Similarly, although any owner of an exotic or dangerous pet will likely need some sort of local government approval, an owner of a wild or unnatural pet will likely have fewer restrictions to overcome if living in a sparsely populated area. Zoning ordinances are, in part, designed to maintain uniformity and safety throughout a neighborhood, so in cities or towns with dense human populations, the local zoning ordinance will be more likely to restrict ownership of unusual, large, or dangerous animals.

Restrictions Based on the Number of Animals

Zoning ordinances can also restrict the number of animals allowed on the property. While these rules address property location and the type of animal, they also consider the condition of the property housing the animals. Zoning ordinances restricting the number of animals housed on one property are not only designed to prevent a piece of property from becoming a nuisance due to smells or sounds, but also to prevent negligent pet owners or animal hoarders from amassing a quantity of animals that results in unsafe conditions for the animals. Even property located in the country can be subject to zoning ordinances to prevent an unreasonable accumulation of animals which could create unsafe conditions. The larger and more vicious the animal, the fewer you will be allowed to keep on your property.

Know the Zoning Law

If you would like to purchase and own an exotic or dangerous pet, or house a large number of animals on your property, check the local zoning ordinance in your area to make sure you are not in violation of any zoning laws. Zoning laws frequently govern animal ownership, particularly uncommon pets. If your intended housing of animals stands in violation of a zoning ordinance, you may request an exception if you are able to show the neighborhood and intent of the zoning law is not negatively impacted by your request. If you do have concerns about the interpretation of your local zoning ordinance in relationship to your pet ownership, it is advisable to contact a local attorney who is knowledgeable in zoning laws.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

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