County passes tethering ban

Attendees at the Forsyth County commissioners meeting applaud and cheer after an unsupervised tethering ban was passed on Monday, Oct. 24.

County passes tethering ban
October 27
06:00 2016

Photos by Todd Luck



After  more than a year of deliberation, Forsyth County commissioners approved a ban on the unsupervised tethering of dogs during their Monday, Oct. 24, meeting.

Normally county commissioners meetings have few, if any, residents in attendance, but the highly anticipated vote attracted dozens who clapped and cheered when they finally got the 4-3 vote on the ordinance. Commissioners Don Martin, Gloria Whisenhunt and Richard Linville voted against the ban, saying it was too restrictive and wouldn’t stop animal abuse.

“There’s not a commissioner up here that supports abuse or who wants to know that a dog has been abused,” said Whisenhunt. “There are mean people in this world, and I don’t think there’s  anything government can do about mean people. I think this ordinance is the most intrusive ordinance I have ever seen in Forsyth County.”

Commissioners Dave Plyler, Ted Kaplan, Everette Witherspoon and Walter Marshall voted for the ban, which has been pushed by animal welfare groups.  The ordinance bans unsupervised tether-ing, but still allows for walking a dog on a leash or tethering when the owner can see the dog. It is modeled after Guilford County’s tethering ordinance. There are several exceptions such as hunting, camping where tethering is required and training or performance events. There will be a one year education period before the ban begins.

Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control found keeping a dog chained in a yard can cause more aggressive behavior, including biting humans, and can lead to injury or strangulation of the dog. The Forsyth County Veterinary Medical Association endorsed the ban.

Marshall said the ban would make the community safer for both animals and people.

“It will benefit all parts of the county, including East Winston,” said Marshall.

During the public comment session, Mitch Cromer spoke in opposition to the ban, saying that some residents can’t afford to build fences for their dogs.

“All people are not born with a silver spoon in their mouth and one size does not fit all,” he said.

Keith Murphy, co-founder of Unchain Winston and Unchain Forsyth, said that both groups build fences for residents who can’t afford them. He said the groups are collaborating with other non-profits in anticipation of the tethering ban.

“To date, we have managed to keep up with fence requests,” he said. “When this ordinance passes, we do anticipate an increased demand.”

Animal Control Advisory Board Vice Chair Priscilla Ivester asked com-missioners to implement the changes they suggested, which would add more exceptions. The rest of the speakers supported the ban as passed, including Janice Freeman, who is also on the Animal Control board, and School Board Member Lida Calvert-Hayes, who was concerned about children being bitten by tethered dogs.

Commissioners also voted 5-2 to accept an offer of $11.5 million from Texas-based Levcor Acquisition LLC  for 20 acres of land on Strummer Park Circle, subject to an upset bid period that would allow others to bid on it. The offer Involves an examination period of at least nine months before the sale closes for the developers to determine if the land is viable for commercial use. Both Marshall and Linville opposed the sell because they felt the county might need the land in the future.

The land, which is just off University Parkway, is next to the county’s animal shelter. It contains the county’s former youth detention center, which was shuttered because it was cheaper to house juveniles in neighboring counties. The state now leases the facility for its center for adjudicated youth run by the nonprofit Methodist Home for Children. The state could renew its lease for up to three years under the deal. Watts said the county is looking for a new location for the juvenile center.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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