09/28/11 — Goldsboro dog rules have little impact

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Goldsboro dog rules have little impact

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on September 28, 2011 1:46 PM

As of March 1, 2010, city dog owners had new rules for how they took care of their pets, as the City Council approved two ordinances regulating pet ownership. But statistics in the year and a half since then show the policies haven't impacted citizens much.

Ordinance 91.25 sets regulations concerning tying out dogs and 91.26 spells out the city's policy on dog waste.

The dog tethering ordinance states that dogs shouldn't be tied up to any stationary objects for more than two hours in a 24-hour period. It also dictates that the tethering device must be at least ten feet long and that enclosures must allow for the dog's regular movement. The ordinance went into effect July 1, 2010.

The policy on defecation on streets and private property states that dog owners are not permitted to allow their pets to defecate on any public or private property without the permission of the owner, unless the excrement is immediately removed and disposed of appropriately. That ordinance went into effect April 1, 2010.

There has been one instance where citizens were found to be in violation of either ordinance and penalized, said Maj. Michael West of the Goldsboro Police Department. An individual reported that a dog was chained to a fence outside of a neighbor's home, prompting police to question the property owner, who said he was going to place the dog in a kennel, and asked for a couple of days to fix the situation.

West said 90 percent of the time the owner of the dog will come into compliance with the ordinance because oftentimes owners aren't aware of the laws, which are still fairly new.

"With it being semi-new, we explain it to the homeowner or dog owner and nine times out of ten they come into compliance immediately," West said.

In the case where a citation was issued, days passed and the property owner didn't come into compliance, bringing about consequences as set out in city ordinance 10.99, which stipulates violators are guilty of a class three misdemeanor, which results in a fine not to exceed $500 and imprisonment of up to 30 days.

When approached, the property owner said the dog wasn't his and that he was only holding the dog temporarily. When made aware of the tethering, the owner of the dog came and removed the animal.

There have been no cases reported where a citizen was found in violation of 91.26, mostly because those in violation correct the mistake when they learn they can be charged.

But the lack of citations also might be because of how difficult it is to prove that a particular dog's owner is at fault.

"The only way we can prove it is if there was a witness," West said.

Even then, however, the owner of the dog can deny the waste was from the accused dog, leading the police to take the witness to court to testify against the owner.

The defecation ordinance grew from concerns expressed to District 6 Councilman Jackie Warrick in early 2010 from constituents complaining about neighbors' dogs making waste in their yards. The tethering policy was largely the work of former police Chief Tim Bell and City Attorney Jim Womble and was intended to create a safer environment for pets, local residents and law enforcement officers.