Editor’s note: When she submitted an anti-tethering ordinance for review by Randolph County’s officers nearly a year and a half ago, MiMi Cooper, who was the county’s public health director at the time, stated that chaining a dog for long periods of time away the animal interaction with humans and can cause sensory deprivation, boredom, frustration, anxiety and restlessness. She found that limiting tethering is better for animals, but it is also a public safety issue. Cooper said that dogs that are chained most of the time – or all of the time – are more likely to be antisocial and more aggressive. A chained dog who breaks free is therefore potentially a dangerous dog.
ASHEBORO – In two weeks’ time, new regulations will come into effect in Asheboro and rural Randolph Counties that will ban dog tethering around the clock.
The ban on tethering as a regular method of keeping a dog also applies in Franklinville, Seagrove, Staley, and Trinity, where the county’s animal welfare ordinance is enforced.
To begin with, animal control officials will issue warnings and allow residents a reasonable amount of time before collecting fees that come with fines – $ 35 to $ 150 in Asheboro and $ 50 to $ 200 in the county.
Even so, as of January 1st, no one will knock on doors or sneak into backyards looking for violations if violations can be punished with fines.
First and foremost, anti-tethering rule enforcement will be complaint-driven, although that doesn’t mean animal control officers are not keeping their eyes open. But they cannot see everything.
Randolph County only has four animal control officers covering approximately 800 square miles. Like their local counterparts, they don’t even know how many dogs are in their jurisdiction, let alone how each of those animals is cared for.
“We’re supposed to pay a tax on dogs,” said Susan Hayes, Randolph County’s public health director, “but I don’t think everyone does.”
After a long awaited time
Animal control officers of the city and the district as well as local animal welfare organizations have been informing residents about the new rules for months.
Randolph County’s officers passed the new tethering law in October 2015, effective January 1, 2016. They postponed the application of fines until January 1, 2017 to allow enough time for it to spread.
Asheboro City Council members updated the city’s Animal Control Ordinance in March and will go into effect January 1, 2017.
Hayes said her department’s environmental health workers, not just animal control officers, kept their eyes peeled for tethered animals.
“We spoke to people who were out and about,” she said. “When they see animals being tied up, they have stopped and talked to people, or they have left information.”
From January 1st, the scenario can be as follows:
“Let’s say Officer Maness comes over and sees me tying up my dog,” Hayes said. “He’ll tell me it’s illegal to do this in Randolph County.”
If the dog owner says compliance isn’t an issue, Officer Maness will return to check the status later. If someone says they can’t afford to meet the requirements, Officer Maness offers options.
“He will help me find resources,” said Hayes. “We intend to work with people and help them find the resources that are out there.”
Animal Control Officer Russell Lataille and Animal Control Officer Ryan Mickey have told Asheboro residents about the upcoming change. Sometimes the conversation is related to a phone call from a concerned citizen.
“I just got a call today about a dog tied to a tree on South Church Street,” Lataille said this week.
Lataille said he and Mickey make around 20 to 30 animal welfare calls a month, although the numbers rise when the weather turns cold. He estimated there were around 150 to 200 tethered dogs in the city when councilors approved the anti-tethering ordinance in March.
He estimates that this number has dropped significantly – to 50 to 75.
“The good thing is that the citizens of Asheboro have mostly gotten on board with it,” he said. “Everyone I spoke to agreed to fix the problem.”
In a recent update to council members, Lataille reported that “responsible dog owners” have also called to ask how the law will affect them.
One woman reported that she puts her dog on a leash outside for a short time every day and sits with the dog while he is outside. She wanted to know if she would get into trouble for doing this after January 1st. Lataille assured her that she would not do it.
The real rules
As of January 1, 2016, Asheboro-based pet owners will be allowed to restrain a dog “for a reasonable period” or in an emergency. However, tethering a dog around the clock is illegal.
Randolph County’s Tethering Ordinance, defined as “tying, chaining, or restraining a dog to a solid object with a rope, chain, or other device to hold the dog in place,” states:
a. Tying a dog as a regular method of keeping the dog on the owner’s property is illegal.
b. Owners can tie up one or more dogs for a reasonable period of time to allow waste to be disposed of.
c. Owners can tie a dog to a runner for a reasonable period of time to allow the dog to exercise.
d. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (b) and (c), it is not permitted for a dog to be tethered twenty-four (24) hours a day.
e. The owners may only tie their dogs for reasons other than those mentioned in paragraphs (b) and (c) or for longer periods in emergency situations or under extremely extenuating circumstances. Owners should be willing to explain to animal control officers what circumstances required them to tether their dogs.
Randolph commissioners mandated a better shelter for dogs some time ago. Asheboro followed suit in October – and that change to the ordinance will also come into effect on January 1st.
“The dog is basically going to need a kennel,” said Lataille. “If it’s a big dog, it needs a little more space.”
In particular, both regulations require a structure with at least three sides, a roof and a floor, on which the animal is housed and protected from the elements.
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Contact Asheboro Animal Control at 336-626-1300 ext 330 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (For assistance with an immediate problem after 10:00 p.m., call 911 and an Asheboro police officer will be dispatched) The Randolph County number Animal Control is 336-683-8235.
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TUESDAY: Where can residents get help if they cannot afford an enclosure for a dog or if they need a dog house?