Ahoskie amends animal restraint regulations

Published 11:04 am Tuesday, December 19, 2017

AHOSKIE – A little, maybe even a lot, of kindness will be shown to dogs in the town of Ahoskie after the Town Council amended its longstanding ordinance on animal restraint.

The older ordinance, Section 10.11 (b), stated that animals which are housed or maintained out of doors shall not be restrained by means of a device which is not at least 15 feet in length and of a size commensurate with the size of the animal. It said nothing about care, shelter, and feeding of the animal – primarily dogs, or their proximity to other neighboring home dwellers; neither were the fines clearly defined for violations. The new ordinance strikes the older Section-b and replaced it with the following requirements:

Tethering (the use of a chain, rope, or other means to attach a dog to a stationary object so that it can move only within a set radius) of animals outdoors must meet the following guidelines:

Tethering is now only allowed if a responsible adult (age 18 or older), owner, or someone designated by the owner, is present with the animal at least once in 12 hours.

Tethers must have a swivel at both ends.

Minimum length of tethers: 15 feet.

Must be connected to a harness or collar, not connected directly around the neck.

Only ONE animal per tether.

Pulleys, running lines, or trolley system attachments may be used if a minimum of 10 feet in length and no greater than 7 feet above ground level.

No tether used that allows the animal within 15 feet of a property line.

Penalties for violating the ordinance remain a fine of $150 a day for each violation with 30 days to pay, or the fine doubles; and the town may consider civil action, as the unpaid fine would be treated as a debt.

“This won’t change anything about requirements for shelter, or requirements of food, all that stays the same,” said Town Manager Kerry McDuffie. “I think it’s a reasonable compromise, and while I don’t think everybody’s completely happy with it, it’s better than what we have now.”

Retiring Councilwoman Linda Blackburn thanked McDuffie and his staff for the new regulations.

“This is something I’ve been working on since February because I knew this was my last year on Council,” Blackburn stated. “I know there’s more we can do, and I hope there’s more we will do.”

McDuffie said Animal Rights activists had requested the change, and stated he and his staff felt they would be reasonable for the town to adopt.

Blackburn said the revision is in line with the town’s other animal ordinances.

“You cannot tether and not have shelter, you can’t not have food and water, and tethering does not mean that you can have dogs running wild in the town,” she implored.

Councilman Charles Reynolds requested clarity on the revision, with particular reference to the restraint.

“Explain again what you now have to do if you tie a dog up,” Reynolds inquired.

“Somebody has to make contact with the dog within 12 hours,” answered Mayor Jimmie Rowe.

“Dogs can’t be tethered, Councilman, without someone being aware they are being tethered,” replied Blackburn. “Right now we have a dog on Main Street that’s just tied up, chained, and no one’s looking after it, except for a few storekeepers. You just can’t do it.”

Blackburn then made a motion to adopt the revisions to the animal ordinance, seconded by Mayor pro tem Rev. C. David Stackhouse. It passed Council by a unanimous vote.