The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

October 22, 2012

Animal control ordinance will get 2nd public hearing Monday

By Brian Graves, Staff Writer

Monday, October 22, 2012 — It appears the hunters of Stanly County may have bagged one of their prime targets — parts of the proposed new county animal control ordinance.

The ordinance had been sent back to the Stanly County Health Department for more study and revisions after many spoke out against some of the restrictions that they felt were far too restrictive, especially for those who keep animals for hunting.

In particular, Article II (K), the section involving restraint, was pinpointed.

Under the original version, it would have required all county dogs owners to keep their dog restrained by keeping them inside a secure enclosure with a minimum dimension of 10 feet by 10 feet; keep the animal in the house; a leash “of sufficient means;” an electronic fencing device; securing them in a safe manner in a vehicle; under the control of a licensed hunter during a designated season; or while participating in shows or competitions.

The new version has totally deleted that section.

Article IV Section I (H) which defines the word “restraint” eliminates the statement that would require a dog owner to keep a dog on his property under retraint “at all times.”

It also adds wording that considers a dog restrained if it is training for hunting as regulated by the state wildlife commission.

In more generic circumstances, a dog is considered restrained if it is sufficiently near the owner or a competent handler on the owner’s property under his direct control or is on a tether of at least eight feet.

If the owner’s property is greater than one acre and the dog remains under the control of its owner on that parcel of land, the dog does not have to be actively restrained by means of a fence, tether or other secure enclosure if control can be maintained and the dog is restricted to the owner’s property.

The changes do make it somewhat harsher for a first time complaint.

Under the new wording, an animal control officer now has the authority to impound a dog even on a “first time” complaint.

The former wording only gave the power to issue a written notice.

Cats will have their own penalties for not staying within boundaries.

An officer was originally given a choice as to whether to issue a written or verbal warning.

The new version requires that a written warning be issued to the owner.

That notice will inform the owner should there be a second violation, civil penalties will be involved.

If after the notice is tendered a cat is caught off the owner’s property, it may be impounded.

If not retrieved within three days and all fines and fees paid, the cat will become property of the county to be placed for adoption or euthanasia.

The second public hearing on the ordinance will be part of the county commission’s meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, where public comments can be made.

The commission has the option to send it back for further review or to approve the ordinance with its new language.