The King police are stepping up enforcement of the city’s animal ordinances following a series of complaints about unleashed dogs in the area.
“In the past few council meetings people have been complaining about their animals being hit by motorists and we have had people calling and complaining about dogs using the bathroom on their property or people saying they are afraid because dogs are running loose,” said Police Chief Paula May. “As long as people are complaining, we will be stepping up enforcement of the ordinances.”
Under the city ordinances “No dog shall be left unattended outdoors unless it is restrained and restricted to the owner’s property by a tether, rope, chain, fence or other device. Fencing shall be adequate in height, construction and placement to keep resident dogs on the lot, and keep other dogs and children from accessing the lot. One or more secured gates to the lot shall be provided.”
The ordinances also allow for the impoundment of a dog if the dog is found off of it’s owners property and is not “under the control of a competent person and restrained by a leash, chain, rope or other adequate physical control.”
May said the police approach enforcement first with a warning letter followed by increasing fines for each subsequent offense.
“We usually send people a letter letting them know they are in violation of the ordinance and if we have to go back the first violation is $50, the second is $75, and third and every one after that is $100,” said May. “We hate to charge people with this but if they refuse to be responsible pet owners and take care of their dogs then unfortunately they will be looking at some criminal enforcement actions.”
May noted that the city code also addresses other animals ranging from pigs and chickens to ponies, horses and exotic animals.
“It shall be unlawful for any person to keep hogs, pigs or swine,” said May, noting that included pot-belly pigs.
The ordinances do allow the possession of chickens, ponies, horses, rabbits and some exotic animals but provide guidelines for issues such as noise, required fencing and pens, and storage of feed.
Fowl, like dogs and cats, are not permitted to run free within the city limits, according to the ordinance.
May said it was also important for pet owners to clean up after their animals when walking them.
“In the parks there are bags provided for that for people with dogs,” she said. “We certainly want to encourage people to use those and not leave them laying or throw them into the woods but throw them away where they are supposed to go. If someone lets their dog use the bathroom on public property and walks away that is a violation of the animal sanitation ordinance.”
“The city does have a lot of respect for animals and the ordinances are enacted by the city council with the intent of encouraging responsible pet owners,” she added. “You should not have pets if you are not able to take care of them. People have a right to their peace and privacy and to not be disturbed from really load noises coming form some of these animals. The sanitation of the city is also important.
“We do try our best to give someone a verbal or written warning before they are charged to give them a chance to correct what ever issue there is because some people may not know what the ordinances are,” she added. “All of the ordinances are available on municode.com.”
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.