Animal Ordinance approved

Published 9:07 am Thursday, February 5, 2009

GATESVILLE – Seven months and two county managers later, the Gates County Animal Control Ordinance has gone from a working document to an official set of rules and regulations.

At their meeting here Monday, the Gates County Board of Commissioners put their stamp of approval on the ordinance, a document that has prompted numerous debates and fueled several passionate pleas since its formal inception in July of last year.

The commissioners, making every attempt to ensure that the final ordinance was right for the county, held numerous public hearings over the past seven months concerning the issue. The working document was just that, an ever-changing ordinance that was tweaked, re-worked and tweaked again before the commissioners adopted the final version by a 5-0 vote on Monday.

“There’s been a lot of time and work spent on this ordinance and I thank everyone for their input,” said Commissioner Graham Twine as he made the motion to approve the ordinance.

Commissioner Carlton Nickens offered a second, saying, “We need to thank the committee (one organized to assist with the wording of the ordinance); they did a wonderful job.”

Upon the signature of Commission Chairman Henry Jordan, the ordinance becomes effective immediately.

The ordinance applies to all domestic animals kept as pets for pleasure or work. Some of the document’s highlights include definitions and standards of adequate food, water and shelter.

The Gates County Sheriff’s Office has the authority for animal control and enforcement of the Animal Control Ordinance.

The ordinance has sections dedicated to cruelty to animals; confinement of a vicious or dangerous domestic animal; nuisance animals; vaccinations of dogs, cats and other domestic pets as well as the display on the animal of the vaccination tag; notice to the county Health Director in the event of an animal biting a human; rabies control; impoundments; animal adoption regulations; stray animals; and animals running at large on school grounds.

Additionally, the ordinance gives the citizens the right to protect/defend themselves, family and property from the threat of an attack by an animal.

Penalties for unlawful violations of the ordinance range from $50 for the first and second offenses to $500, 30 days in jail or both for the third offense. Each day’s violation of the ordinance is regarded as a separate offense.