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Court rejects dog day care appeal in mural dispute

Tuesday - 5/22/2012, 4:13pm  ET

RICHMOND, Va. - A federal appeals court says Arlington County did not violate a business owner's free-speech rights by requiring her to cover up a 960-square-foot mural.

Kim Houghton owns a dog day care center called Wag More Dogs. She sued after county officials declared that her outdoor mural depicting frolicking cartoon dogs violates an ordinance limiting the size of commercial signs. The dogs in the mural, which faces Shirlington Dog Park, are similar to dogs used in the shop's advertising.

Houghton claimed the ordinance violates her First Amendment rights and is unconstitutionally vague.

A federal judge disagreed, and so did a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The panel said Tuesday that the ordinance is clear, content-neutral and narrowly tailored to enhance the county's aesthetics.

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