Proposed restrictions on tethering dogs that fall short of an all-out ban received unanimous support Monday from the York County Council, sending the rules on to a public hearing.
The council also killed a proposal to tell Lake Wylie business owners what colors they can and cannot paint their buildings.
The county’s most vocal animal rights activists – many clad in white – and the pro-tethering set – many in red – buzzed with excitement and frustration as council members weighed in on the rules, which supporters say will give animal control officers more enforcement tools.
Councilmen Bump Roddey, Bruce Henderson and Curwood Chappell sought clarity on the rules before the council agreed to send the plan on to a public hearing and final vote, with council Chairman Britt Blackwell, David Bowman, Eric Winstead and Chad Williams easily offering their support.
Blackwell said he appreciated county animal control officials’ “painfully going through” the details of the plan and coming up with something “solid.”
“We’re psyched,” said Alicia Schwartz with the Committee for Responsible Pet Ownership after the meeting. Though she and others would prefer a ban on tethering, the council’s plan is “a compromise.”
Rita Bond, who lives in south York and has about 10 tethered dogs on her property, said passing these rules is just “a foot in the door” for animal activists seeking more restrictive laws down the road.
Irresponsible pet owners will “keep doing what they’re doing” despite the regulations, said Ashley Nicole, a vet tech who also has several dogs in south York. “All it’s going to do is punish us,” she said.
The council will hold a public hearing on the rules at its Oct. 15 meeting, when the council could also give final approval.
If the restrictions pass, York County pet owners would no longer be able to use tethering as a primary means of restraining their animals when they’re away. Instead, a dog owner would have to keep the dog on a trolley – a line fixed at two points that allows the dog, connected by a secondary line, to run freely up and down and across. Another option would be to keep the dog in a secure enclosure such as a kennel, a fence or inside a house or building.
The rules won’t ban tethering entirely – pet owners who continue tethering will have to secure the dogs in another enclosure such as a fence. Pet owners also will be free to tether when they’re around to supervise. The rules wouldn’t take effect immediately, allowing for time to educate the public, officials said.
Lake Wylie proposal dies
Lake Wylie business owners can still turn the color wheel if they want to paint their businesses bright colors. A proposal to restrict building colors failed Monday, despite an effort by Henderson, who represents Lake Wylie, to keep the measure alive for a public hearing and more discussion.
Henderson asked the staff to draft the proposal for the council’s consideration after a wave of complaints about a business with a yellow facade and green roof.
Bobby Meek of Clover, who owns the building at the center of the debate, rented by the Automoney Title Loan on Charlotte Highway in Lake Wylie, led the attack on the proposal, telling the council the message they would be sending in passing the rules is “We don’t want you in York County.”
“And I think that’s a mistake,” he said. “We don’t need more government regulation.”
David McCorkle, also of Clover, was among those speaking in favor of the changes, which would “help enhance and create value” in the area. The changes are “not trying to restrict use, but to create future value,” he said. “This is not government control. This is a community asking for help.”
Though initially met with “overwhelming support” for the rule changes, Henderson said he’s been hearing a lot of opposition in recent weeks. Passage Monday would have allowed for more input from both sides and an opportunity to find “common ground,” he said.
On hearing the many cries of government overreach coming from critics, Henderson, a big critic of government regulation on council, said this situation was different.
“I’ve always made this promise that I wanted the local citizenry to make these decisions. I feel like that was what I was doing.”