Staff to look into cost, liability, other issues
If Indian Trail town Council member Darlene Luther has her way, the town may soon have a new law on its books.
Luther, spurred by a rash of dog attacks in Union County, brought up for the discussion during the March 8 town council meeting the need for Indian Trail to enact a leash law.
“In the light of the recent dog attacks, I feel as though I’ve been forced to perceive loose, roaming dogs as threats,” she said.
Currently neither Indian Trail nor Union County has a leash law. However, according to the Union County sheriff departments’ website, deputies are assigned to the Bureau of Animal Services where they enforce state leash laws and Union County animal control ordinances.
Under the North Carolina leash law, a dog must be on a leash at nighttime unless accompanied by its owner. The law makes no mention of how dogs should be restrained during daylight hours.
“There is no reason that people should not be expected to restrain their dogs within their property boundaries,” Luther said.
Other members of the council echoed her sentiments.
“When I let the dog out of that backyard, I’m responsible,” Councilman Robert Allen said, suggesting the town look beyond just a leash law and make more of an animal control law, making it clear that owners keep up with their pets.
The council also agreed that enforcement of the potential ordinance would be an area where more discussion and information was needed. More specifically more information was needed as to what extent owners of dangerous dogs would be held responsible.
“It’s not the dog it’s the people with the dogs,” Councilman Gary D’Onofrio said. “It’s hard to make people act responsible.”
Council Man Robert Allen concurred with D’Onofrio’s belief that dog owners should be held responsible for their dog’s actions.
“It’s usually the same owners who are the problem, there needs to be some type of recourse for them,” Allen said.
Mayor John Quinn agreed that dogs running loose were a problem, but cautioned there could be unintended consequences.
“One problem may be one neighbor could use the leash law to harass dog owners they don’t like,” Quinn said.
Still, council woman Luther believes it would be well worth it for Indian Trail to have a leash law.
“Property owners’ rights are one thing, however when dogs run loosely into others yards and through communities, those around them have no clue whether that dog is a threat or not,” she said.
With strong support for the potential ordinance, the council agreed to gather information on the subject and study other municipalities with leash laws to try and determine the best way to have a successful law.
“I see this as a proactive measure that will serve to protect our residents and improve quality of life,” Luther said.