2018 Bills

HB 242: Removing Arbitrary Limits on Pets

This bill was held in the House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee.

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it is aligned with our principles and merits support.

Most cities in Utah arbitrarily restrict the number of domesticated pets a person can have on their property. These limits are not based on any evidence-based standard, and a higher number of animals on a property than is allowed does not inherently become a nuisance.

See here for a comparison of how the top 50 most populous cities perform on this issue.

To address this issue, Representative Marc Roberts has sponsored House Bill 242, which states that a person can keep as many animals as they want on their property unless:

  1. the city, by ordinance, “establishes evidence-based standards for determining when the presence of an animal or animals unreasonably degrades the health, safety, noise, odor, or sanitation of the environment of another property”; and
  2. after doing so, “finds that an individual’s animal or animals are in violation of the standards”

The bill also states that a city may establish a presumption of the number of animals that a person may have and de facto be compliant with the standards. For example, a city could say that it is presumed that all owners of residential property are compliant with the standards if they have two or fewer dogs.

But under the bill, a property owner could go beyond this presumption—in other words, possess more dogs in this example—so long as they are fully compliant with the standards established by the city.

The bill also says that a city may prohibit a person from keeping a certain type of animal in a certain type of zone. For example, a city could say that no horses are allowed in a single family residential zone of a certain type.

Requiring cities to operate based on standards rather than arbitrary limits will better protect property rights while still ensuring that neighbors are protected from any potential nuisance.