It seems appropriate that we review a few animal control issues.
While there is no leash requirement in Robeson County — although cities and towns may have one and some do — owners are to have their animals under control at all times. It is a nuisance for an animal to be repeatedly at large; interfere with, molest or attack persons or other animals; chase, snap at, harass or impede pedestrians, bicyclists or vehicles; damage, soil or defile private or public property; or, is diseased or dangerous to the public health. Owners would be notified of violations and have 48 hours to remedy the situation. Since it is unlawful for any dog or cat owner to fail to provide the animals with a collar or harness to which a current rabies inoculation tag is attached, the officers should be able to ascertain the owner. Animals without such are viewed as strays and are subject to being picked up and housed at the shelter.
Before you call Animal Control for every animal that wanders across your yard, remember, at best, there are three officers on duty for the entire county and they have to prioritize calls. So an animal trotting across your yard would be lower than threatening animals or biting animals. It is the latter category that I really want to address.
It is the duty of every physician to report to the Health Department within 24 hours after first having knowledge that a person was bitten. A control officer would then pick up the report. Much more common is the report from the bite location — by telephone — wherein the officer and usually a deputy are the first responders. Animals that have been properly vaccinated may be allowed to stay on the property if they can demonstrate control measures and confinement that are not a part of the bite scene. For example, a police officer knocks on the door, the door is opened and he gets a face full of dog. Even though this may be considered a “house dog,” the house cannot be used for the 10-day confinement period as that was the scene of the bite. Confinement might have to be through a private veterinarian’s office or the animal shelter. If the biting animal is not properly vaccinated and has an owner, it may be confined at a veterinarian’s hospital or the animal shelter for 10 days. The third category is the stray animal that bites and is immediately confined to the animal shelter. Owners are responsible for all lodging costs and fines in the case of failing to have a rabies vaccination.
The final determination is the extent of the bite. Animals that kill or cause life-threatening injuries through bites to a person shall be immediately impounded and destroyed in a humane manner. An animal may be declared vicious if its bite causes physical harm. Other factors for such declaration would be if it attempts to bite or cause physical harm, or injures, maims or kills any pet or domestic livestock. At that point, a certified letter is sent outlining the steps that must be taken in order to retrieve the animal. The most onerous step is building an enclosure to specifications and this gets rather costly (fence attached to a pad for example). Add in the boarding fees and any fines and you are looking at a substantial investment in an animal that can never run free and can only come out of the enclosure while muzzled and leashed, in essence never to be played with again.
So the solution is stated in paragraph one: Animals must be under control at all times. As an aside, no limitation is the answer to the frequently asked question of how many dogs and cats can a person own in the county — although the municipalities usually set limits.