GARLAND — Stray dogs roaming through town are stirring concern with residents.
During a recent meeting, resident Becky Moser spoke about the matter with the Garland Board of Commissioners. Town officials are looking into the issue.
“We’ve had this issue for quite some time now,” Moser said. “It’s these wild dogs or these loose dogs running in this town.”
Her grandson is a member of the Hippity Hop 4-H Rabbit Club, a group which shows rabbits during competitions. He won blue ribbon awards for his lionhead rabbits. Moser reported that the rabbits were attacked.
“One of those championship rabbits, that was ready to go grand champion, doesn’t have a toe,” she said. “You can’t show a rabbit that has ant kind of deformities.”
She continued and said that she called “the dog catcher” one time to get a dog away from her property. Commissioner Austin Brown was also concerned and said his mother can’t walk her dogs because of a loose rottweiler. They were also concerned about children.
“Many other citizens in this town have been threatened by that one dog,” Moser said while talking about resident’s safety. “It’s sad to hear about a rabbit, but you can’t replace a human. You can’t replace those scars. We need to take action somewhere.”
In March 2017, town leaders considered adopting the Sampson County Animal Ordinance to deal with animal issues. During that time, a deputy made a presentation to the board, but the plan stalled. Mayor Winifred Murphy said commissioners wanted to wait until Police Chief Ronald Matthews was hired to begin enforcement. Town Attorney Micheal Porter will be involved in the process. Murphy stressed urgency about the situation.
A public hearing is needed for the policy, which will include civil actions, violations and fees. Brown expressed his frustration about not having an established ordinance. He believes it’s been put on the back burner for years and said it’s time to act on it.
“My biggest concern is that we’ve talking about doing this policy and we keep putting it off,” Brown said. “This is becoming a problem.”
Commissioner Lee Carberry added that enforcement from the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office is limited because an ordinance is not in place.
“That’s why we’re reviewing the ordinance they have,” Carberry said. “There’s parts that we don’t need in our ordinance. We’re not going to have a animal control center. We’re not going to do those type of things.”
Carberry added that the easy part is removing certain parts, but the issue is setting up civil actions to deal with dangerous dogs and serious misdemeanor offenses.
With urgency, town officials wanted to have a public hearing date, but Town Clerk Pam Cashwell informed them a notice has to be published and available for public viewing for at least 10 days. After review, there’s a possibility that the town will schedule a special meeting to begin the process.
“Something needs to be done,” Carberry said.
Reach Chase Jordan Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.