County Trims Animal Regs

WINNSBORO – After months of work in committee, County Council during their Feb. 15 meeting pared down an animal control ordinance and shelved altogether a revised noise ordinance.

Interim County Administrator Milton Pope told Council that the animal control ordinance had been modified to include definitions of restraint. Those included, he said, the “immediate control of a person” by means of a collar and leash, restraining an animal inside a fence, kennel or other area, or keeping the animal tethered with a “chain, rope, leash, cable or other device.”

Pope said the law had also been revised to define “adequate shelter” as an enclosed, weatherproof area, or a shelter manufactured or constructed “expressly for housing a dog or cat” that protects the animal from the elements. The shelter must be accessible to the animal and of sufficient size, Pope said. It also must be elevated off the ground to keep water, snow or ice from entering.

Examples of unacceptable shelter, Pope said, included but were not limited to: underneath or inside motor vehicles, garbage cans, cardboard boxes, animal transport crates, carriers, under houses, structures, decks or outside steps or stoops.

District 1 Councilman Dan Ruff, however, said he felt the definitions of shelter might be too restrictive.

“I’m really concerned because there are a lot of people in this county in rural areas that have pets, and I’ve had them where the dog won’t go in the dog house,” Ruff said. “I’m a little bit concerned about the ‘elevated of the ground’.”

Ruff said the clause mandating accessibility and size to provide protection from weather was sufficient.

“I thought that was enough,” Ruff said. “I think under houses is acceptable, too; as long as they’re protected from the weather and are dry and safe. I think we’re getting too nit-picky.”

Councilwoman Mary Lynn Kinley (District 6) said that many houses are not closed in underneath, which would expose an animal to harsh weather. But Councilman Billy Smith (District 7) said the previous clause in the ordinance, defining adequate shelter as enclosed, would apply to the underneath of homes.

Kinley agreed and the ordinance was adopted with Ruff’s amendments.

Council scrapped entirely a revised noise ordinance that had been in committee for the better part of a year – making it as far as second reading before being sent back for further consideration. On Feb. 15, Council put aside the ordinance from the committee, opting instead to simply insert decibel levels into the existing ordinance.

“We all remember that in the beginning what the Sheriff wanted was to go ahead with the current ordinance that we have on the books and put in place a decibel level limit in that ordinance,” Smith said. “What we want to do now is go back to what the Sheriff asked us for in the first place.”

Council agreed to bring the matter forward during their March 14 meeting.