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Freedom in Your Own Backyard: Find Common Ground and Resolve Animal Disputes Using Mediation

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about your individual situation it is best to seek the advice of an experienced legal professional.

People often talk about freedom in “your own back yard”, however if you’re a city-dweller with kids or animals that phrase might not mean quite the same thing to you. The tale of the rooster, Cocky, shows that what is acceptable in your backyard depends on the tolerance of your neighbors and local, city and state rules. Such ordinances differ between states and cities but it’s possible to wind up causing a nuisance without the intention to do so (unlike with trespass where intention often has to be proved). The kinds of disturbances animals can cause range from straying off property and creating noxious smells to aggression and loud noise.

Backyard Animal Disputes Can Be Mediated

The good news about backyard animal disputes is that they can very often be mediated. Backyard animal disputes are about people wanting to live in peace. The bad news is that feelings run high. Animals do not intend harm, and their owners may feel protective of them. Meanwhile neighbors who have experienced disturbance may have reached the end of their tolerance by the time they decide to take action.

It is always a good idea to try to resolve conflict peacefully from the beginning. Mediation can help resolve backyard animal disputes from the most simple to the most complex. Nuisances may be classified as private or public: a straying animal or an animal that affects one neighbor’s property becomes an issue between two neighbors (private), while a noisy animal like a rooster may be everybody’s business (public). The more people it affects, the more complicated the animal dispute. The twists and turns of Cocky the Rooster’s story show how disputes can easily get out of hand. Cocky was used as a therapy animal for a stroke victim, but chickens do not qualify as therapy animals. He was a nuisance to some neighbors and not others. The city of Boulder had no laws regarding backyard chickens, and no animal noise limit to refer to. One of the worst outcomes of the dispute was that it divided a peaceful community.

If you’re facing a backyard animal dispute, mediation can help. At Boileau Conflict Solutions, we run the U.S.’s first animal rights mediation clinic. We believe animals have legitimate life interests that can be fairly represented in any dispute. Mediation can help by:

– Protecting good relationships between neighbors and within the community
– Clarifying community rules over issues like noise and smell, if these aren’t spelled out in city rules or local or state law
– Finding solutions that protect animals’ best interests, including finding new homes for animals if necessary (and agreeing how to pay for these solutions)
– Helping parties to lay out the elements of their dispute, and fully understanding the implications of going to court.

At Boileau Conflict Solutions, we believe that it’s possible to find a satisfactory resolution to most animal disputes with neighbors. We are caring and well-educated mediators who draw on our backgrounds in psychoanalysis, finance and the law to find solutions. We are available at our offices in Irvine, CA, Campbell, CA and Boulder CO. We can also be contacted via Skype, Zoom, Telephone or Facetime. If your dispute needs urgent attention, we can mobilize a dispute resolution team at short notice. Please contact us to see how we can help.

Read more about this story: http://www.dailycamera.com/news/boulder/ci_31072454/life-and-death-boulder-rooster

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