Local News

Garner Dog Owners Bark Back At Ordinance Limiting Pets

Posted May 21, 2002

— For years, the Wake County town of Garner has had a law banning more than two dogs in yards less than 20,000 square feet. Residents who break the law face fines of $100 a day per dog.

Garner officials said that they are strictly enforcing the law, because of mounting complaints about dogs. Pet owners said the town is citing the wrong people.

Diane Wathen owns five dogs.

"They are an extension of our family. They are my furry children," she said of the dogs she rescued from the local shelter.

Now, the dogs are threatened by the ordinance. Wathen has 15 days to comply or she will be fined $500 per day.

"They're not barking, they're not raising Cain, they're just laying out in the sun and being dogs" Wathen said.

"The barking into the hours of the night or all day long -- it's a matter of trying to weigh one resident against another resident and who has what rights," said Mary Lou Rand, Garner town manager.

Wathen registered her dogs with the town. She and other pet owners who followed the law said they are being penalized for it.

"The first people that they're targeting are the people who've licensed their dogs. And the people who are back yard breeders, irresponsible dog owners, those are the people who are getting to keep their pets," said dog owner Diane Wood.

"Well, I guess maybe in some ways, that's true," Rand said. "However, they would be violating another ordinance if they didn't register them."

Wathen said she plans to fight.

"I can't choose among my children who I'm going to sacrifice," she said. "I'm not going to make that choice. I'm going to fight with all I've got to keep my family together."

Dog owners in Garner plan to protest the ordinance at a regularly scheduled town meeting Tuesday night.

A similar controversy hit the town of Cary last year. Dog owners there fought the ordinance and the town council ruled it unconstitutional.


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