Ahoskie bites back

Published 8:49 am Thursday, May 17, 2012

AHOSKIE – The Town Council here is in the midst of making wholesale changes to Ahoskie’s Animal Ordinance.

After extensive study by Town Manager Tony Hammond and other staff members, the board received a recommendation to abolish the town’s current ordinance and replace it with a new one.

“This issue was brought up last month,” Hammond said. “As a staff we chose to look at ordinances from other towns.”

Hammond said he shared two of them with Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh and they decided to combine those two ordinances to form what they would propose for the town of Ahoskie.

Councilman O.S. “Buck” Suiter Jr. asked if one of the ordinances was from the town of Windsor because that one was particularly suggested. Hammond said he believed that was one of the two that was used to come up with the combined ordinance.

The issue came before the board last month after a dog attacked Ahoskie resident Ruby Baker and her pet April 1 in the parking lot of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald office. Baker’s daughter, Linda Meeks, appeared before the board asking for more stringent ordinances concerning animal control.

Meeks said her research showed that the town of Windsor has fines against the owner of a dog that attacks and inflicts wounds by biting. She said Windsor levies a $500 fine for a first offense and $1,500 for a second offense.

“If I had a dangerous dog and knew that I could be fined that amount, I would want my dog in a pen,” Meeks said.

The new ordinance that Ahoskie is considering would levy fines on pet owners similar to those in Windsor.

Any person violating any provision of the ordinance would receive a $150 fine for the first violation, according to the new ordinance.

It goes ever further with dogs than are dangerous.

“If any dangerous animal or dangerous dog shall, when unprovoked, attack, assault, wound, bite or otherwise injure or kill a human being, the owner shall pay a $500 fine and, after a 10 day waiting period exclusive of Sundays and holidays, said dog shall be destroyed by the animal control program.

“For each owner’s subsequent violation said owner shall pay a $1,500 civil penalty for owning or keeping dangerous animal or dangerous dog which assaults, wounds, bites or otherwise injures or kills a human being,” the ordinance reads.

There are also penalties for animals, including dogs, which kill or injure domestic pets. The first fine will be $250 and each subsequent violation would be $500.

Hammond asked the board to accept the ordinance and set a public hearing for the board’s next meeting.

Councilman Winfred Hardy asked if citizens of Ahoskie normally call the county’s animal control office or the Ahoskie Police Department if they have problems with pets.

Mayor Brien Lassiter said citizens usually call the Ahoskie PD and the police department contacts animal control.

After the discussion, Councilwoman Elaine Myers made a motion to accept the ordinance and hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. June 12. The motion was seconded by Councilman Malcolm Copeland and approved by a unanimous vote.