People who violate animal control ordinances in Goldsboro will now find themselves subject to a defined set of fees, after the Goldsboro City Council approved a fee schedule for the offenses at its meeting Monday.

Mike West, Goldsboro police chief, said that the fee schedule takes what was once a vague process and adds some certainty to it.

“The way it was written before, offenders could be fined ‘up to $500.’ This is assigning specific fees to different offenses so people know when they’re charged what they’ll be fined,” West said.

Fees are divided into three categories under the new schedule. The first includes “animal at large” infractions, meaning that an animal is loose without any restraint. A first offense carries a $50 fine, plus shelter reclaim fee and boarding fee, if applicable. That fine increases to $75 on the second offense, and $100 for all subsequent offenses.

The second category includes animals creating a nuisance, which follows the same fee structure as the animal at large fees.

Category three is where the fees move up. That category includes unprovoked killing, attacking or injuring, both of a domestic animal and by an animal to a human. An unprovoked attack on a human by an animal carries a $250 fine for a first offense, rising to $500 on subsequent infractions or if the attack kills a person.

The unprovoked killing or injuring of a domestic animal brings a $125 fine, with a $250 fine for further incidents.

West said that the prior way of doing things made it so animal control officers could not actually write tickets to offenders, and would instead need to defer to sworn police officers to do so. In addition to moving manpower away from the officers’ other duties, West said, this meant that many cases would enter the court system that likely did not need to be there.

“We would have to charge a criminal charge, and animal control officers can’t do that,” West said. “This way, my civilian animal control officers can write a city ticket that doesn’t have to go to the courts. You can roll up to city hall, if you accept the fine, and pay it there. Or, if you disagree or are innocent, you can appeal to the police chief. For me it’s not really a manpower thing, it just gets you out of the court system.”

The main benefit of the change, West said, comes mostly for city residents accused of animal control offenses. The actual fee structure approved by the council is the same one used by Wayne County, he said.

“I got lucky in that the animal control guy I got used to work for the county, so he already knew the fee schedule there,” West said.