The county has taken another step toward shortening the leash on dangerous dogs in the county.
The Board of Commissioners earlier this week gave preliminary approval to assessing a $100 permit fee for registering a declared dangerous dog,
The Animal Ordinance adopted in May 2014 contains provisions regarding the declaration of a dog as dangerous or potentially dangerous, the appeals process for such action and the requirements for owners of those dogs. The ordinance requires the registration of such animal, including a permit from the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office. The ordinance did not, however, establish a fee for the permit.
Sgt. Jessica Kittrell, who heads up Animal Control, recommended a yearly fee of $100, in line with Cumberland and Johnston counties.
“A dangerous dog is not something we want anybody and everybody to bring to the county,” said Kittrell, who said Sampson was previously known as a haven for dangerous dogs. “If we don’t have a fee assigned to the one-year permit, that’s just going to be another incentive for people to bring dangerous dogs to the county. I feel like it’s important we do have (a fee).”
Within 5 days of being deemed dangerous, the dog has to be registered as such. Or, the owner can choose to appeal. If the Health Board upholds Animal Control’s recommendation the dog be deemed dangerous, then an additional five days is given to fulfill requirements.
That includes microchipping the animal, taking out a $100,000 liability insurance policy, as well as installing a pen or moving the dog into a secure residence or facility.
“They’re only going to get the permit once they register and successfully show they have done everything they have to do to own a dangerous dog in Sampson County,” Kittrell noted.
In the interim, the dog is kept at the Sampson County Animal Shelter.
“The animal does not leave our shelter until the permit is in place,” Shelter director Alan Canady said.
Kittrell said dangerous dog cases include attacks on a person inflicting severe injury, disfigurement or death, as well as attacks that caused injury or death on a domestic animal.
“Over the last month or two, we’ve had three cases that really caused us to look at our policy,” Health director Wanda Robinson said. “And this came up.”
The board voted unanimously to accept the amendment to the ordinance, but it will need a second vote next month.
“This is going to effectively be an ordinance in the sense that you’re adding a requirement to an existing ordinance,” Attorney Joel Starling told the board. “To do that on a first reading requires a unanimous vote of all the members. It’s unclear whether an absent member is included in that.”
Starling noted the absence of Commissioner Clark Wooten during the board’s meeting earlier this week.
“You can vote on it now … but for it to have the effect of an ordinance I think all five (members) are going to have to be here,” Starling explained. “You are going to have to vote on it again at your September meeting or defer voting until next time. On the second reading, you just need to have a majority.”
The board voted 4-0 and will address the matter, likely as part of the consent agenda, next month.
“I think it’s more reassuring to the citizens,” said Kittrell of the fee.
Reach staff writer Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.