DURHAM, N.C. — A dog tied up on a chain in the back yard does not grab most people's attention. But did you know that chain can only be 10 percent of your dog's body weight or the owner is breaking the law?
That is the case in
, where animal control officers are going house-to-house looking for unvaccinated and unlicensed animals and more.
"We want to make sure any animals on the property are housed properly, chained properly and fed properly," said Cindy Bailey, Durham County Animal Control director.
Twice a month, county animal control officers hit the streets armed with a checklist of people whose pets are vaccinated. When they spot an animal they are not sure about, they ask.
Bill Pearson got a written warning. His five Akitas are behind on vaccinations and a dog house needs repairs.
"The more they do, the more they keep you aware of what you are or aren't doing, that'll extend the life of your pets," Pearson said.
While Pearson was accommodating, animal control officers said many people are not so happy to see them.
"Their animals are not at large, so they don't think we have any business going door-to-door finding violations," Bailey said.
In the last month and a half, animal control has found 64 illegal pets. Durham County officers admit on searches like these, there are probably plenty of other illegal animals they do not find.
"I think this is just a drop in the bucket of how many unvaccinated dogs we have in our system," Bailey said.
Abandoned homes can often pose the biggest problems.
"Those are prime areas for people to be doing illegal dogfighting," Bailey said.
So far, officers have not seized any animals or taken legal action against any of the pet owners. They hope if owners know animal control is on the prowl, they will do the right thing and take care of their pets.
In Durham, all pets older than four months must be registered with the county every year.
If the animal is already spayed or neutered, the county license costs $10. For pets that have not been fixed, the cost is $75
In Raleigh, it costs $7 a year to get a license for spayed and neutered pets and $14 for unaltered animals.
is currently working on enacting a licensure program.
Check with your local animal control to see if your pet needs a county license.