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County’s dog-focused restraint law starts Jan. 1

By Josh Bergeron
josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — If you chain a dog to a tree in Rowan County in 2017, you will be breaking the law.

Starting on Jan. 1, new requirements take effect for restraining dogs. Dogs are occasionally found by animal control officers restrained by heavy chains that are anchored to the ground, dog houses, trees or posts, said Animal Services Director Bob Pendergrass. That won’t be allowed in Rowan County starting in 2017.

Instead, dogs restrained outside could be attached to “an overhead trolley system, a retractible cable system or a swivel cable anchored to the ground,” according to a new law. Restraint lines would also need to be attached to dogs with a “buckle-type collar,” the law states. It was approved by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners in September.

“The goal, what we’re focused on, is getting away from having dogs on chains because there’s so many instances where it’s not done well,” Pendergrass said. “Putting a dog on a chain is going to be a thing of the past.”

The specific portion of county law pertaining to dog restraints states “if kept on an outside restraint, all restraints must be designed and placed so as to prevent choking or strangulation, and be of such design as to restrain the animal during its utmost physical attempts to free itself.”

Dog owners who let their animals roam freely in a fenced-in yard won’t be affected by the ordinance. The area inside the fence, however, would need to be 10 feet by 10 feet or larger. The same rule applies to kennels.

Adequate shelter — four walls, a roof and a floor raised off of the ground — would be required for all animals kept outdoors.

Dogs also cannot be left restrained on an uninhabited piece of property, according to the ordinance.

There will be some leniency to start, according to Animal Enforcement Director Clai Martin. Dog owners will have two weeks to comply at the start of 2017, Martin said. After that, violations of the restraint law will come with a fine of $25, Martin said. Officers will also provide information sheets to citizens explaining the new ordinance.

Pendergrass and Martin said animal control officers would not actively seek out violators.

“If we’re out on a regular call and see a situation, that would be an instance where we would take action,” Martin said. “We just want to make life better for animals in Rowan County because there’s a lot of dogs on heavy chains out in the county.”

Martin said animal control officers, at times, have encountered dogs tangled in a chain and unable to reach food, water and shelter.

Pendergrass said a proper restraint system “can be bought for the price of a couple of bags of dog food.” If done correctly, a proper restraint system would give a dog more freedom of movement, he said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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