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Judge Takes More Time Deciding Dog Mural Case

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Business owner Kim Houghton covered the mural with a tarp in August.
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Business owner Kim Houghton covered the mural with a tarp in August.

In Virginia, a federal judge says a dispute between a dog-grooming store owner and Arlington County raises interesting First Amendment issues.

Kim Houghton, the owner of Wag More Dogs in Shirlington, claims Arlington County is violating her free speech rights by ordering her to take down or change a large mural she had painted on the side of her business. The wall in question faces the popular Shirlington Dog Park, and the mural depicts large cartoon dogs chasing bones.

Houghton says she commissioned the mural to engender good will in the community and share her love for dogs. But the county claims it's an advertisement for Houghton's business, and it's far too large in her county's zoning rules.

Judge Leonie Brinkema calls the case very interesting and though she could have ruled from the bench Friday morning, she instead says she will take more time with the ruling.

Right now, the mural remains mostly covered by a large blue tarp, as ordered by the county.

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