Animal Ordinance changes proposed

Published 10:52 am Monday, November 20, 2017

GATESVILLE – The public will have the opportunity to address proposed changes in Gates County’s Animal Control Ordinance.

At their regularly scheduled meeting here earlier this month, the Gates County Board of Commissioners discussed three major changes to the ordinance. Those changes came about during an Oct. 4 work session conducted by the Commissioners where they addressed the concerns brought forth by county citizens and animal rights activists in the aftermath of a highly publicized death of a dog in early July. Allegedly that dog overheated in the un-shaded backyard of its home on Roundtree Lane. That death sparked outrage nationally on social media sites.

“We talked about some changes to our animal control ordinances at that work session,” said Commission Chairwoman Linda Hofler at the board most recent meeting.

Hofler pointed out those noted changes:

Dealing with inhumane conditions, a violation of the revised ordinance will occur if the animal’s pen is full of feces; its water bowl is full of algae and dirt; if there is moldy food in its bowl; if there is a foul odor present due to decomposing or diseased animals that produces pungent/fetid odors; and the grass inside the pen is 12 inches or higher.

There is a proposed change in the definition of proper shelter. That now reads: Constant access to sufficient shelter, three (3) walls, a roof and a floor that sits above the ground and protects from the weather, i.e. rain, wind, snow, hail, sleet, and/or sun. Barns and farm shelters are excluded from being required to have a floor that sits above the ground.

On the issue of the standards for chaining/tethering a dog, the Commissioners propose that no animal shall be chained outdoors unattended without a chain, cable or tether designed to be attached to a harness, if deemed necessary by the Animal Control Officer. The maximum weight limit for a chain or tether shall not exceed 10 percent of the animal’s body weight.  All tethers shall be a minimum of ten (10) foot in length and have a swivel at both ends to prevent twisting and tangling. 

The proposed changes also strikes subsection G of Section 307.1…..Quarantine fees paid to the county will be established by animal control and submitted to the Board of Commissioners for approval. 

Prior to the changes being set in place, the board is required to conduct a public hearing. On a motion from Commissioner Henry Jordan and a second from Commissioner Ray Freeman, a public hearing was approved by the board and will be held at the next meeting of the commissioners – 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 20 in the county courthouse.

These proposed changes stem from an Aug. 2 meeting of the Commissioners, one where numerous individuals implored the board to insert more stringent wording into the county’s Animal Control Ordinance. More specifically, the proponents of stricter guidelines expressed a desire to end the use of allowing dog owners to use a tethered chain on their animals as well as enact more stringent regulations dealing with providing proper shelter, water and food to animals.

One of those proponents is Carol Whitt, a Gates County citizen and animal rights activist

“Gates County citizens have the opportunity to move us forward with humane animal welfare ordinances,” said Whitt after learning of the proposed changes introduced last week. “Many of you signed a petition requesting changes to our present sub-standard ordinances. Now your presence is needed and requested at 7 p.m. on Nov. 20 at the county courthouse. The dogs are depending on you to make humane changes to their lives.

“Remember the horrible senseless suffering and death of the dog on Roundtree Lane,” she continued. “If you don’t do something, our county will continue to be inhumane and allow suffering, neglect, and cruelty. Please attend this public meeting and let their voices be heard and bring change.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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