The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

December 5, 2012

Albemarle council discusses dog problems

By Justin Jones, Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 — As the county continues to look into their own ordinance on dog restraints, Albemarle’s city council has ideas of implementing their own ordinance on the matter.

The issue was placed on council’s agenda at the request of Councilman Jack Neel, but other council members added their own related stories on the issue.

City Manager Ray Allen and Albemarle Police Chief William Halliburton became aware of complaints from a neighbor of a dog owner who was having issues with a dog leaving the neighboring owner’s property.

Halliburton had since visited the home, and the dog owners made necessary repairs shortly thereafter.

Regardless, one complaint didn’t set council on the course for taking their own action. It seemed as if council had been waiting on the county to pass their own ordinance, as Councilman Ronnie Michael stated, of which Albemarle would soon after likely follow closely.

But now, they may try to set their own sooner rather than later.

And complaint calls on dog restraint issue doesn’t always result in penalties. Even instances where families may report an issue with a dog that may pose a potential threat, the circumstances must be right for any action to be taken.

“The problem is Animal Control has to see the dog off of the owner’s property,” Michael said.

“This new ordinance, if we ever get to that, will address that issue.”

Over the last few months, as Michael was addressing, the County Commissioners have worked with the Department of Health on making a suitable dog ordinance. Currently, the issue is being reworked again, as families have spoken about issues their proposed ordinance would have on hunting, and families with larger properties than what one might have in the city.

“We have the option to go ahead and adopt something. We were just waiting on the county to try to get something that was as close as possible as the same thing because we rely on (Animal Control) to do most of our enforcement,” Michael said.

“It may come to the point that we have to go ahead and address it ourself,” Michael said.

As stated in council’s conversation, state laws have outlined the definition of a vicious dog, but it’s the other details that have created the current situation.

If council were to adopt their own ordinance, as Councilman Troy Alexan-der posed, the city would not have to hire an entity to enforce the ordinance, as the city already has agreements with Animal Control.

Council decided to request that Allen gather the county’s latest proposal as a starting point and then construct the finer points where they deem fit.

“There are a lot more dogs running loose than there were two years ago,” Councilman Jack Neel said.

But with enough instances of issues within the city, more decisions could be looming on the matter.

“We were just trying to make it simple for Animal Control where they didn’t have to worry about all these different laws,” Michael said.