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Sheriff goes to court

Sheriff heads to court Nov. 22 to defend his reputation as a friendly working dog against claims that the dog’s barking disturbed a neighbor. Photo submitted

They say every dog has its day, but in Plumas County, at least one dog will have his day in court Nov. 22. Sheriff the Dog, a 5-year-old Great Pyrenees is being cited for barking “all night long.”

A new neighbor across Wolf Creek complained about a barking noise she attributed to Sheriff to animal control earlier this fall and a citation was issued as a citizen complaint.

Sheriff, and his owners Paul and Nichoel Farris, live and work on a 23-acre parcel of land on the hillside of Wolf Creek on Hideaway Road with a working farm orchard of 214 apple trees.

Sheriff was cited under 6-1.106 as a noisy animal public nuisance Sept. 24.

Paul Farris claims he signed off on the complaint before realizing the complaint could come along with a $1,000 fine or jail time.

Allegedly, Sheriff is violating an animal nuisance and the Plumas County noise ordinance that has been on the books since the mid-1980s — but the intention of the ordinance appears to have been meant for pets in households — not farms or ranches.

The Farrises along with many ranchers and farm owners in Indian Valley have been on social media pointing out that this type of ordinance violates the Right to Farm Act which recognizes that livestock and working animals (such as dogs) on a working farm will, in all likelihood, make animal noises.

“Sheriff is a working dog. He’s our security,” said Paul Farris, noting that 214 apple trees means they get quite a few visits from bears; it’s Sheriff’s job to alert them to bears and other predators. When Sheriff is off-duty he’s not prone to barking, according to the owners.

Paul Farris does acknowledge that the Great Pyrenees does leave the property now and then and has made many friends among local school children.

The ranchers and farmers are watching the case closely — looking at any fine or jail time as an example of government closing in on the rural and farming life.

Others are looking at the case as “irregularity in the codes,” recognizing that such an ordinance would be detrimental to farming.

Supervisor Kevin Goss is introducing a measure that will amend the decades old ordinance, but concedes that it is “going to take some time so mainly [it addresses] future stuff.”

Goss continued, “Unfortunately this complaint was filed by a neighbor and then the person [Farris] signed the citation so it has to be followed up on, but my belief is that our court system will see through all this and throw out the case. I’ve been talking with a lot of folks.”

The Farrises have been documenting the presence of bears on their security cameras as well as Sheriff guarding the property to keep bears away.

Meanwhile, Sheriff the Dog continues his working life on Hideaway Road and is building up a fan-base of followers online — particularly people who love the “gentle giant” breed.

The neighbor that complained was not available for comment at this time.

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