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New Chatham County animal services ordinance takes effect April 15

Posted Monday, April 7, 2014

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Pittsboro, NC - The new Chatham County Animal Services Ordinance, as approved by the Board of Commissioners on January 21 and March 17, takes effect on April 15, 2014.. A 60-day grace period with warnings for violations, rather than fines, will be given early in the implementation process, except for repeat offenders who have already been warned or cited.

The revised ordinance replaces the previous Animal Control Ordinance. It includes new or updated definitions of terms pertaining to the welfare of domestic animals, revised violation penalty fees, and provisions for humane restraint and sheltering of pets outside.

The key changes are provided below, but visit to view the complete ordinance.

* Animal Control has been changed to Animal Services to better reflect the range of services provided by the division.

* Animal neglect is now defined in the ordinance, which previously included only animal abuse.

* Owners who keep their dogs outside must provide outside shelter with three solid sides, a roof, and solid floor raised above ground with room for the dog to move about freely and lie down comfortably. The shelter must be structurally sound, water and wind resistant, and kept in good repair. Furthermore, the owner must provide shade from direct sunlight with adequate ventilation and light. This means even doghouses with a roof must have another type of sun protection above the doghouse, such as a tree canopy, tarp, or awning.

* Outside enclosures must ensure that a pet is unable to escape. The enclosures should be AT LEAST three feet by ten feet for one animal weighing less than 25 pounds and AT LEAST five feet by 10 feet for one animal over 25 pounds. However, the animal's needs may vary and Animal Services can require larger space if needed.

* An adoptable animal is defined as an animal that is physically well, exhibits socialization behaviors, is compatible living in human environment, does not pose a risk of injury to others, and is considered desirable for companionship.

* For adoptable animals turned into the shelter, the holding period remains five days. For animals deemed not adoptable, the holding period is now three days.

* Public nuisance provisions were expanded to include unsanitary conditions that cause offensive odors or are dangerous to the animal's or public's health.

* Under the revised Animal Cruelty Section, owners must provide adequate food, water, appropriate shelter, a humane and clean living environment, and necessary medical attention for pets. Failure to do so is a violation.

* As to the human restraint and tethering of dogs, no dog under four months of age can be tethered. The tether must have a swivel on both ends and be attached to a buckle-type collar or harness, not choke-style collars and not directly around the dog's neck. The weight of the tether should not exceed 10% of the dogs body weight unless required to prevent breakage that would endanger public safety. Tethered dogs must have adequate access to food, water, and shelter from heat, cold, and other bad weather. Only one dog can be attached to a single tether. Pulley systems, running lines or trolley systems must be at least 15 feet long and no more than 7 feet above ground. Tethered dogs must not be able to come any closer than five feet of the property line.

* Civil penalties have been changed from a $50 flat fee to a penalty fee schedule. Fees are $100 for first offense, $200 for second offense, $300 for third offense, and $500 for any subsequent violations. Failure to vaccinate for rabies may result in a fine of $100. Civil penalties for animal neglect are $300 and animal cruelty fees are $500 per violation.

For more information about the revised ordinance or the services offered by Animal Services, please call 919-542-7203.

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New Chatham County animal services ordinance takes effect April 15

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