Debate continues on GC Animal Control Ordinance

Published 6:50 pm Wednesday, September 24, 2008

GATESVILLE – For some, Gates County’s proposed Animal Control Ordinance is too stringent.

For other, it’s not stringent enough.

With that, it’s back to the drawing board for the ordinance, one that has been the topic of discussion since the measure was officially introduced to the Gates County Commissioners at their July meeting.

The latest round of talks concerning the ordinance came at a public hearing held last week. There, the commissioners listened to the pros and cons presented by the county citizens and opted not to bring the measure to a vote. Additionally, the board was minus one member at the public hearing as Wade Askew could not attend due to illness.

The ordinance is expected to be on the agenda for the commissioners’ Oct. 6 meeting.

Since July, the commissioners have tweaked the ordinance several times. Some of that verbiage change came from the commissioners during their discussions of the issue while other changes were recorded based on citizens’ comments.

The latest version of the ordinance noted those changes, including:

** Adding to the definition of a nuisance animal as one that “interferes with or attacks persons or domestic animals.”

** Adding the word “commercial” to the chicken and hog houses exempt from the ordinance.

** Under Section 3-71, the owner or keeper of a dog or cat vaccinated against rabies are required to keep the vaccination certificate as well as display the rabies vaccination tag on a collar worn by the dog or cat.

The 11-page ordinance is very in-depth, covering much more than the county’s current ordinance devised in 2005.

The new ordinance covers every living creature, domestic or non-domestic, with the exception of humans. It details the proper care of all animals, including adequate food, water and shelter as well as defining how an animal can be restrained.

It also includes a five-part section that addresses cruelty to animals. Cruelty, while basically defined as “torture or torment,” can also include failure to provide animals with proper shelter and adequate food and water.

The ordinance also covers enticing or luring an animal off the property of its owner; notice to the county health director in the event of an animal biting a human; destruction or confinement of an animal bitten by a known rabid animal; emergency quarantine; failure to surrender an animal for confinement or destruction; impoundments of lost, stray or unwanted animals; destruction or adoption of unclaimed or surrendered animals; keeping stray animals and keeping non-domestic animals.

According to the ordinance, the responsibility of carrying out the regulations falls upon the Gates County Sheriff Office. The Animal Control Officer will have full arrest powers and the authority to issue citations for violations of all laws of North Carolina and all ordinances of Gates County pertaining to animals.