In 2004 and 2005, Szewc and Updegraff were cited by the county for their noisy dogs — and in fact, they'd been ordered to either remove the dogs from the property or have them debarked. (It's unclear what happened with that order, though Szewc did recently tell The Oregonian she'd had at least some dogs debarked, and they turned out to be lousy guardians; cougars stole some of her lambs following the procedure.)
Debra and Dale Krein testified they'd suffered through the dogs' near-constant, very loud barking for a decade before initially filing a nuisance suit against Szewc and Updegraff in 2012.
The Kreins said the dogs who were still able to bark started early in the morning and kept it up for hours, making it hard to sleep and causing friends and relatives to avoid visiting.
Szewc and Updegraff argued they should be immune from this nuisance suit under an Oregon law that protects farmers from some private actions. The court disagreed. In 2015, a jury awarded the Kreins $238,900 in damages.
It was also ordered that any mastiffs on the property undergo a "total devocalization" within 60 days, with the same time frame applying to any new mastiffs joining the household.
Last Friday, the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld this decision in a 14-page order that finds the lower court had authority to order the surgery, in addition to the cash award, because of the defendants' “persistent failure to remedy the barking." The decision makes no mention of issues relating to animal welfare.