DOBSON — County commissioners opened an avenue for pet owners to tether their dogs in certain instances.
Animal Control Supervisor Abraham Doby outlined some proposed changes to Surry County’s animal control ordinance at Monday’s meeting of the Surry County Board of Commissioners.
The changes to the ordinance were unanimously approved by the board.
Doby told commissioners “the hot issue” in the new ordinance concerned the tethering of animals.
Only months ago the county board voted to effectually place a moratorium on the tethering of dogs. However, Doby indicated after public input was received, he and the county’s Board of Health began looking at the language.
Just like the prior ordinance, the new language exempts pet owners from the tethering ban in certain instances such as for hunting purposes, dogs used for herding animals and while pet owners are camping.
Unlike the ordinance passed months ago, however, the new ordinance will also give some pet owners the ability to apply for an exemption to the tethering ban.
Doby explained those with extenuating circumstances would be able to fill out an application for the exemption. In order to garner approval, the pet owner would have to subject his or her property to a site visit by animal control personnel. They would ensure the area was safe, the owner is providing adequate living conditions and the dog has the opportunity to socialize daily.
Doby said pet owners would have to use a “trolley system” at least 10 feet in length with a lead of 15 feet attaching the dog to the cable.
Surry County pet owners will have one year to take the necessary steps to adhere to the new ordinance, said Doby.
Some of those steps might include installing an invisible fence or applying for the exemption.
Commissioner Eddie Harris said he believes the one-year grace period should be plenty of time for pet owners to bring their situations in line with the ordinance’s expectations, adding it “requires certain responsibilities” of pet owners.
“If you can’t go to that trouble for your dog, then you probably don’t need a dog,” said Harris of the exemption process and installing a “trolley” tethering system.
Doby also outlined another change to the ordinance. The change is regarding an animal’s shelter. Under the new ordinance, a metal floor will not be permitted since it conducts the heat or cold air from outside.
Doby said some pet owners were using metal barrels to house their dogs, a practice which will end as a result of the new ordinance. The shelter must also be large enough for the animal to turn around, and it must have at least three sides and provide shade for the animal.
Board Chairman Buck Golding said finding “something that will work for everybody” has been quite the task for the Surry County Board of Health.
“This has been worked on for years,” said Golding as he opened a public forum on the ordinance. “It’s been a real, real chore to get to this point.”
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.