Hendricks County zoning regulations limit the number of "dogs used as pets for personal entertainment" to 4 and the number of cats to 4, regardless of the size of a property or the use of the animal: a small lot in a subdivision is treated the same as a farm with acreage.
We have a farm where we raise alpacas. We incorporate the centuries-old proven and expert-recommended method of farming by using livestock guardian dogs for herd protection. As Purdue University and other experts advise, these dogs work best in pairs, so we have two pairs --- one for the male pasture, one for the female pasture. (Alpacas must be separated except during breeding.) We also have two pet dogs who live primarily in the house. In addition, we have a few "barn" cats who help keep the rodent population under control.
We selected two of the dog breeds specifically bred for centuries to do this work: Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherds. These dogs live with their herd. When a perceived threat appears, they bark as a warning to the predator and an alarm to the farmer. There are numerous cases of alpacas injured, maimed and killed in attacks by dogs, coyotes and humans when there are no LGDs onsite to protect them. There simply is no question about the value of the work these dogs do.
These dogs and cats are not pets. They are working farm animals, recognized by the IRS and other entities as distinct from pets. Other ordinances in Indiana and throughout the nation recognize that working farm dogs are not pets and exempt them from most restrictive pet ordinances.
We are asking that Hendricks County, a rural farm county, recognize the same: that working farm dogs and cats do not fall under their pet ordinance. We have two pet dogs and three pet cats; thus, we are in compliance with the ordinance and should no longer be harassed. The state's right-to-farm law protects our dogs. The county needs to abide by state law instead of misapplying county ordinances.
We are not hoarders. We are not breeders. All of our animals are fully vetted; all dogs & cats are spayed or neutered. We take exceptional care of all of our animals. Without them, our farm would not function. They are valuable farm animals and we love them dearly.
Most of our dogs and all of our cats came from shelters or rescues. We don't want to be forced to return animals that are very much wanted and loved to overcrowded shelters where they may be forced to finish out their lives in cages ... or worse. Statistics show that livestock guardian dogs and barn cats who are turned over to shelters and rescues are almost impossible to place as pets, so they end up being euthanized. By allowing us to keep them, they can live out their lives in a better environment, fulfilling a useful purpose and being part of a loving family.
We ask for your support in appealing to Hendricks County to recognize that a pet ordinance does not apply to our working farm dogs and cats and that because it does not, we are in compliance.