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Commissioners table animal carcass ordinance, direct health department to investigate

SALISBURY — For the second time in two months, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners on Monday night tabled a discussion on a proposed ordinance that would outlaw feeding large animal carcasses to domestic animals.

The ordinance was originally proposed by Animal Services Director Bob Pendergrass and would make it “unlawful to intentionally feed whole large animal carcasses to domesticated animals in public view.”

The proposed rule stemmed from several complaints both Pendergrass and Commissioner Craig Pierce received from citizens who live in the area of Beck Road — where a person was feeding more than a dozen dogs the pieces of a deer carcass in his front yard.

After a public hearing was held about the ordinance at a meeting on Jan. 19, commissioners tabled the discussion because all five commissioners weren’t present to vote on the matter.

No one spoke during the public hearing on Jan. 19, but three citizens took the podium on Monday night to talk about the proposed ordinance change. All three residents lived in the area of Beck Road and described the way the carcass feedings have impacted their neighborhood.

One resident said that he observed around 60 buzzards gathered every morning for weeks to feast on the deer remains left after the dogs were done. Another resident said that it was wrong for kids riding their bicycles to have to see dogs fight over bones across the street.

Although Chairman Greg Edds said that this was the “most extreme” case of someone being a bad neighbor that he’d seen, he was not in favor of passing the ordinance during the meeting. Instead, Edds said he wanted to give the Rowan County Health Department instructions to work within existing ordinances to investigate whether it’s a nuisance and to take action already authorized in existing rules.

“I personally want to stay away from creating new ordinances because of one bad neighbor because we’re doing that now for the entire county,” Edds said.

Commissioner Judy Klusman said that the fact that buzzards were involved made the situation a “public health nuisance.” Commissioner Jim Greene expressed his concern that the ordinance may not even fix the situation because the resident could exploit a loophole by simply feeding bones or smaller pieces of a carcass to his dogs.

Pierce, who lives in the area where the feeding occurs, had a different take.

“I don’t want to regulate the world, but at the same time we’ve got to have an answer to this problem,” Pierce said.

In the end, commissioners again tabled the matter in order to give the Health Department and other entities time to investigate.

“What I would like to see is our code enforcement folks and our health director given the opportunity to remedy this, and if that doesn’t work I’d be willing to come back and have that conversation,” Edds said.

One of the citizens that spoke during the meeting ended the conversation by saying, “We just want a solution.”

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