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Tag: exceptions

NC dog rescue group fighting to stay open

suerogers

Zoning laws often lack logic, but this one, in Davidson County, N.C., seems especially bone-headed.

A rescue organization in Thomasville that shelters dogs while trying to find them homes has been told that county ordinances allow kennels to have no more than 10 animals per five acres.

Exceptions to the rule are made for those who keep show dogs, those who keep hunting dogs, and those who keep or train guard dogs.

But for an organization like Ruff Love Rescue that saves dog’s lives and tries to find them adoptive homes? Sorry. Up to now, no exceptions have been made, and the county has threatened to shut them down.

ruffloveThe Winston-Salem Journal reported yesterday on the rescue, the problems it is facing, and how it is attempting to surmount them.

While the nonprofit rescue has been operating for nearly 20 years, the county issued it a zoning violation in 2015, saying, as a kennel, it is subject to rules limiting the number of animals to 10 for every five acres.

The notice followed an investigation that was prompted by a neighbor’s complaint.

The rescue’s owner, Sue Rogers, appeared before the county’s planning and zoning committee last week to again seek an exception. The committee voted in favor of allowing the rescue to have more than 10 animals as long as Rogers adds trees or other sound barriers.

That still requires approval from the Davidson County Commissioners. They are scheduled to discuss the proposal on April 11.

Rogers has argued that the rescue should receive the same exception that owners of household pets, and trainers of guard animals, show dogs and hunting dogs receive.

“So you can have 71 hunting dogs or 71 show dogs or 71 pets, but because we are a rescue, that’s a problem?” Rogers said. “What are those ‘exceptions’ doing for Davidson County? I’ll tell you what we’re doing, saving a heck of a lot of lives.”

She has a point. Shouldn’t a rescue get at least the same break that the county has granted to the owners of show dogs, guard dogs and hunting dogs? Since when is grooming dogs for beauty contests, or training them to hunt, or teaching them to get aggressive with intruders more important than saving their lives?

Given all the shortcomings over the years at the Davidson County Animal Shelter, shouldn’t the county be appreciating Rogers efforts, instead of punishing her?

The county shelter was one of the last in the state to stop euthanizing animals in a gas chamber. It has had traditionally low adoption numbers. Even after it’s operation was turned over to a nonprofit group, it had its license revoked in 2015 when investigators found, among other things, that sick and injured animals were going untreated.

Rogers started her independent rescue in her 5-acre backyard in the late 1990s. In 2015 she took in about 400 dogs. Last year, she took in 220 dogs, most of which were adopted.

The rescue regularly pulls dogs from the Davidson County shelter and other county shelters.

“I take the dogs that don’t have a chance because no one wants to invest the time and money to get them better,” Rogers said. “A lot of the dogs I take in have medical issues, like broken femurs or fractured pelvis, and would be euthanized otherwise.”

She estimates she has spent $50,000 on legal fees to keep the shelter open.

“It’s been a hard fight, but I’m not giving up,” she said. “This is my passion, this is my life, this is what I do.”

An online petition to keep the rescue open has received 1,400 signatures in a week.

(Photos: At top, Ruff Love Director Sue Rogers loads toys, treats and food donated at an adoption fair Saturday; lower photo, one of Ruff Love’s dogs is greeted at an adoption fair in Greensboro; by Allison Lee Isley, Winston-Salem Journal)

Forsyth County passes tethering ban

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Leaving dogs tied up for extended periods is now, with a few exceptions, flat out illegal in Forsyth County, N.C.

By a 4 to 3 vote, the county commissioners approved a ban on tethering this week, replacing an existing law many considered toothless and unenforceable.

Under the previous version of the ordinance, tethering per se was not illegal, but it could lead to additional penalties in cases of animal cruelty.

Under the new one, tethering is illegal except when it is being used for hunting, camping or other recreation where tethering is required.

Commission Chairman Dave Plyler, Everette Witherspoon, Walter Marshall and Ted Kaplan voted for the ban. Commissioners Richard Linville, Gloria Whisenhunt and Don Martin voted against it.

The vote was met with applause and cheers by animal welfare advocates attending the meeting.

Keith Murphy, Co-founder of Unchain Winston, said, “We’re really happy that it’s finally passed, we’ve been working on it for many many years.”

“When we started this in 2010 there were only 12 communities in North Carolina that had a tethering ban, now, luckily, Forsyth County has become the 26th in North Carolina to have a ban.”

“I started this the first time I was on the animal control advisory board 10 years ago,” said animal-welfare advocate Jennifer Teirney. “The people and animals of Forsyth County won this one. I’m glad to see us move forward in a progressive way.”

The old ordinance, adopted in 2011, didn’t go into effect until 2013, and many felt it didn’t go far enough.

The new ordinance allows for a grace period of one year.

If a resident violates the ordinance during the grace period, a warning ticket will be issued and the violator will receive information on the new ordinance and organizations such as Unchain Forsyth and Unchain Winston.

Those organizations build fences for families who need help unchaining their dogs.The organizations have built about 150 fences and 200 dog houses for residents.

(Photo: Fairfaxcounty.gov)