Spencer limits dog tethering to two hours starting July 1

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 13, 2016

By Amanda Raymond


SPENCER — Residents will only be able to keep their dogs tethered outdoors for two hours, thanks to an ordinance amendment that was approved at the Spencer Board of Aldermen meeting on Tuesday.

The ordinance amendment states that no one can tether an animal to a tree, fence, post, house or other stationary object for more than two hours in any 24-hour period.

The Spencer Police Department would enforce the ordinance amendment.

Alderman Kevin Jones said he thought the amendment would be good for the community, and is interested to see how the community responds to it.

“Once we’ve done this for a while, we (could) then go back and say, ‘Yeah, it’s worked great, the only issue we have now is front yards,’ or if some other thing presents itself,” he said, “or if that stuff gets taken care of because of all the other newer, tougher restrictions in place.”

Interim Town Manager Reid Walters said the enforcement of the amendment will be educational at first.

As the board was discussing, an audience member asked if the board planned to have a public hearing about the amendment.

Alderman David Lamanno said he wanted to discuss that point.

“I personally like what I’m seeing here. … What I suggest is to give more people in the town a chance to have a conversation about this,” he said. “I would personally like to hear from the animal control, if they could come in next month and tell us the history and why it’s important to not tether dogs.”

Mayor Jim Gobbel said he wanted to make a decision at the Tuesday meeting because the community has been dealing with the problem for a long time.

“We’ve had staff here who have worked hard with the police department, with our legal counsel, to try to get this in place, and this is our opportunity to get an ordinance passed right now that will positively impact citizens in this town,” he said.

Lamanno said he agreed with most of what the mayor said.

“I agree that something needs to be done, but it’s kind of like what we talked about in our vision statement and what we mentioned last meeting about not forcing things on people, at least having a public conversation is part of what we should be doing,” Lamanno said.

Lamanno went on to say that the amendment is a big change that people need to be able to adjust to.

Police Chief Michael James talked about the situation his officers have dealt with when it came to tethered dogs, including one instance during which a dog was choking because it had wrapped its chain around its neck. He said the department received 774 animal complaints since 1999.

“I really think that if the board members, the audience, would go out and look at some of the situations where dogs are tethered in this town, it would be self-explanatory,” Gobbel said.

Walters said most towns that are comparable to Spencer that have ordinances that refer to tethering only allow two to three hours within a 24-hour period.

The board ended up unanimously approving the ordinance amendment with an effective date of July 1.

The penalties for violating the ordinance, a fine of $100 or up to 30 days of imprisonment, with each day of violation being a separate offense, would also become effective July 1.

Walters said he has not yet determined how the public will be educated on the new ordinance amendments, but he will develop that this week.

The other parts of the ordinance amendment defined the standards for outdoor shelters or pens.

In other board business, the board:

  • Heard reports from city departments, the town manager and mayor.
  • Heard a public comment from Bob Oswald. He asked the board to look into phone poles that were supposed to be removed but have not been yet. He wanted to know if the violations mentioned by the police department and land management department were gang or drug related. He also wanted to know if violations were from neglected or rental properties or tenants “falling behind a little bit.” He mentioned that there was a problem with stray cats in the town and wanted an update on the town’s recycling program.
  • Approved a resolution of intent to close an alley at the 500 block of 2nd Street.
  • Approved the intent to move forward with a train-themed music festival to take place on National Train Day of 2017 (May 13). Alderman Lamanno proposed the festival.
  • Heard a comment from Daniel McClerin. To support establishing an annual founder’s day celebration, he found out that Spencer was initially incorporated on Feb. 20, 1901. The amended charter was ratified on Jan. 31, 1905.
  • Appointed Marla Gobbel to the Community Appearance Commission.
  • Set April 27 as the date for a budget workshop.
  • Approved an audit contract with Eddie Carrick, CPA.
  • Approved a street paving proposal for 2nd Street, starting from Gobble Street to Charles Street; Rowan Avenue from Harrison to 4th Street; the intersection of Iredell and 3rd Street; and two small sections of Grant Street
  • Heard a presentation from RowanWORKS.
  • Approved two other ordinance amendments dealing with public nuisances and the penalty for the general provisions. They are both effective today.
  • Approved a motion to put the Spencer Woods project out for bid.
  • Went into a closed session to discuss an employment agreement with Interim Town Manager Reid Walters.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.