Burke County commissioners approved portions of an updated animal ordinance last week, but sent parts of it back to the Animal Advisory Board for more work.
The three sections of the ordinance that were sent back are chaining/tethering, impoundment, and spay/neuter and breeder permits.
The impoundment section calls for a fine for owners of animals that are unaltered but end up at the animal shelter. The chaining/tethering section outlines when and how chaining/tethering can be used, including allowing access to food, water, shelter and shade.
The spay/neuter and breeder permit section calls for a yearly permit and would require a breeder to prove the animal has been vaccinated, not to sell or give away a litter before its members are 8 weeks and breed the animal once a year.
Debbie Hawkins, chairwoman of the Animal Advisory Board, told commissioners that last year Animal Shelters of America completed a needs assessment. It found the rate of impoundment of animals at the shelter was higher than the national average, and three corrective measures needed to happen: sterilization, education and legislation.
She said the advisory board had asked the public, responsible breeders and rescue groups to come up with the recommendations presented to commissioners over the last nine months. The advisory board also researched what other counties have done.
“Our recommendations are a bare minimum standard,” Hawkins said. “They are by no means groundbreaking.”
Hawkins said some of the counties the advisory board researched have required spay/neuter, pet registration and mandatory microchipping, but they recognized those could be costly and cumbersome for responsible pet owners.
She said the updated ordinance recommendations targets irresponsible pet owners and uncontrolled breeding of dogs and cats.
Hawkins told commissioners that the updated ordinance recommendations included transferring authority of animal control from the Burke County Sheriff’s Office to the county manager, expanded the definition of animal care for pet owners, and defined what is safe and humane for tethering and adequate food shelter and water.
“This is not about the rights of the pet owner,” Hawkins said. “It is about the supervision and safety of and for all animals.”
Several people spoke during the commissioners meeting in favor of the updates, urging the board to adopt it. But others spoke out against the measures, including some who said that they had just found out about the proposals.
Commissioners directed the advisory board to use the next three months to allow public input and then come back with recommendations.
The Burke County Animal Advisory Board will meet at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the commissioners’ meeting room at the Burke County Services Building at 110 N. Green St. in Morganton. Information from the county says a portion of the meeting will be devoted to receiving public input on amendments to the animal ordinance concerning chaining/tethering.
The county says future input sessions of the advisory board will be held concerning breeder permits at 5 pm Sept. 9 and an unaltered impoundment animal fine at 5 p.m. Sept. 23.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, participants will be screened, required to wear a face covering and sit 6 feet apart, according to the county.
In other business, commissioners:
- Approved a request from Michael Heavner, on behalf of Brenda Alley, to rezone 14.02 acres from an Industrial to the Residential Two (R-2) zoning district. The property is around 0.4 mile from the Interstate 40-Exit 113 interchange.
- Approved modifying a lease agreement and a $15,000 contribution for wall repairs at the old Burke County Courthouse.
- Approved appointing Nancy Wood to Department of Social Services board of directors for a three-year term.
- Approved a proclamation honoring Dorothy Kincaid Hawkins on her 100th birthday. Hawkins is the mother of former county Commissioner Bruce Hawkins.
- Approved a proclamation acknowledging ratification of 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.
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