The 2015 Utah's Freest Cities Ranking

Animal Restrictions

Category: Private Property

Cities impose a number of animal restrictions on homeowners. These restrictions vary by type of animals allowed, zones in which animals are allowed, number of animals allowed, permits required for ownership of particular animals, among others. We captured a cross section of these restrictions by picking three different animal types and measuring the restrictions imposed by the city. Because this category measures property rights, we were chiefly concerned with restrictions on keeping animals at one's residence.

While we recognize that property rights do not permit a resident to use their property in a way that is a burden or nuisance for neighbors, the imposition of arbitrary animal limits is only a speculative and prescriptive way to regulate potential nuisances. A case-by-case evaluation would be more deferential to property rights, whereas many city ordinances have become an arbitrary restriction on property rights. Some cities actually use a more balanced approach by not imposing an arbitrary limit but instead stating that animals may be kept so long as they do not create a nuisance for others. This approach is more protective of property rights.

For each measure, we assumed a person lived on a 1/8 acre residential lot and then measured the restrictions imposed on dog ownership, chicken ownership, and bee ownership in the city. We chose dogs because they are a common and popular pet and can serve as a good indicator of how a city treats pet ownership generally. We chose chickens because they are a small but still agricultural animal becoming more popular for food production in residential areas. We chose bees because they are a more unique "animal" to be kept, can be naturally ocurring, and yet are also growing in popularity as a hobby and can stand as a measure of how far reaching some cities have gone in regulating land use.

The first measure was a simple count of how many dogs a city would allow for the sample lot. We measured dog licensing separately under the Individual Liberty category because the mere ownership of a dog is regulated more generally by cities despite property ownership. For this metric, we were focused on restrictions related to a city's land use laws. Dog limits ranged from two to four and were scored based on this number. A score of five was awarded if the city did not specify a particular quantity restriction. Some cities use a more qualitative measure that evaluates whether the keeping of dogs is an actual nuisance as opposed to the presumptive and arbitrary limit other cities use, and thus were also awarded a five. This score was normalized using a z-score and counted for 30% of the overall animal restriction metric.

The second measure looked at four elements of chicken regulations. First there was a binary score measuring whether chickens were allowed in any residential zones or banned in the entire city, which counted for 10%. Second, we measured the total number of chickens allowed for the sample lot with a max score of 51 for cities with no limit (some cities specify a limit of 50 which is virtually unlimited for such a small lot, but to differentiate between the two the max score was set at 51) counted for 15%. Third, we scored whether a permit was required to keep chickens on a three point scale: 0 for chickens completely prohibited, 1 when a permit is required, and 2 when no permit is required. This counted for 10%. Fourth, we scored the total maximum cost of any required permit for keeping up to 8 chickens.1 This counted for 5%. A z-score was created for each element individually and the total of all the elements of chicken policy counted for 40% of the overall animal restrictions score.

The third measure looked at the same four elements of beehive regulations as we looked at for chicken regulations: binary score for allowance in any residential zones (7.5%), beehive limits (10%), beehive permit requirements (7.5%), and permit fee costs (5%). The total of all the elements of beehive policy counted for 30% of the overall animal restrictions score.

1 Any time we scored a fee in this index we reported the results in inverse form by multiplying the z-score by -1 in order to reflect higher fees (more restrictive of freedom) as lower or negative scores and lower fees (less restrictive of freedom) as higher or positive scores. Additionally, in some cases a city may not charge a fee because it prohibits the particular activity entirely. In these cases the fee, if it were to exist, would essentially be infinite. For these cases we reported the z-score without the inverse multiplier. We also assessed a penalty of 1 standard deviation to reflect that these cities were extreme outliers by prohibiting the activity entirely.

To see a specific city's laws for this metric, click on its name in the right column, then find the row in the table below the Private Property category.

City Scores

To learn about our scoring methodology, click here.

Rank City Score
2Eagle Mountain1.820
5Salt Lake City1.268
6Heber City0.626
7West Haven0.557
9Cedar Hills0.511
10Saratoga Springs0.407
11Cottonwood Heights0.401
13Cedar City0.289
16Woods Cross0.288
23Spanish Fork0.090
29West Jordan-0.011
31Brigham City-0.041
37North Ogden-0.227
38American Fork-0.240
39South Jordan-0.288
41North Salt Lake-0.471
42St. George-0.475
46West Valley City-0.616
47Pleasant Grove-0.721
48South Salt Lake-0.746
49South Ogden-1.222