Local News

Cumberland trying to put bite behind its anti-tethering bark

Posted July 26, 2010 5:05 p.m. EDT
Updated July 26, 2010 6:22 p.m. EDT

— Only one person has been cited since Cumberland County banned tethering pets last August, but a county official said he plans to step up enforcement of the law.

Dr. John Lauby, a retired veterinarian who was recently appointed director of Cumberland County Division of Animal Services, said violators will now get a one-week warning. If their animals remain tethered, they will face the $100 fine per animal called for under the county ordinance.

"Obviously, somebody in the Animal Services Division has dropped the ball over the last year because there certainly should have been more than one citation written," Lauby said, adding that he believes thousands of pit bulls alone are being tied up across the county.

Fayetteville adopted the county ordinance on June 1, but Lauby said his officers cannot enforce the ban inside city limits because Fayetteville hasn't yet given him written permission to do so. County Attorney Rick Moorefield is looking into the matter.

"We want to make sure we’re on sound footing when we take someone to court," Moorefield said.

Jackie Tuckey, a spokeswoman for the city of Fayetteville, said it's unclear what the legal problem is. Language in the ordinance allows for county officers to enforce the city's tethering ban, she said.

Shelby Townsend, the founder of a nonprofit group called Unchain Cumberland County, expressed frustration at the confusion over enforcing the tethering ban.

"Once they had the council meeting, that was in the minutes – the approval. That should have been enough. Common sense has got to kick in somewhere," Townsend said.

Joseph Taylor has complained to local authorities that his neighbor in the Massey Hill neighborhood of Fayetteville has three pit bulls tethered in the yard next door.

"There's no teeth in the law to make the people pay, so what good is it to have the law?" Taylor said.

The neighbor, Raefeal Davis, said his dogs already ruined one pen, and he said Animal Services told him he could keep his pit bulls tethered for now so they don't hurt themselves, another animal or a person.

Building kennels to hold dogs outside could run a homeowner like Davis $500 each, Lauby said.

In many cases, Unchain Cumberland County can pay to install fences for pet owners, Townsend said.