NEWTON, Iowa (AP) — A judge has ordered the release of four dogs in Jasper County, saying the county's ordinance regarding vicious animals is unconstitutional.

The Des Moines Register reports that the case began in August 2016 and that Judge Martha Mertz had previously upheld the ordinance. But she wrote in Monday's ruling that an April decision by the Iowa Appeals Court caused her to reconsider her previous ruling.

The appellate court ruled that Des Moines' ordinance was unconstitutionally vague. Mertz concluded that because Des Moines' ordinance was more explicit than Jasper County's, the Jasper County ordinance also was unconstitutionally vague.

Jasper County's ordinance defines a vicious animal as "any animal that demonstrates a propensity without provocation to attack or bite human beings or domestic animals."

The four dogs Mertz freed had been deemed vicious.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com