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On Tuesday, May 18, the Burke County Commission will be considering several changes to county laws regarding the breeding, care, and selling of dogs and cats in the county.

Those who wish to comment or testify in the meeting are encouraged to do so via the information below (Scroll down for details).

Summary and Background:

Last summer, the Burke County Animal Advisory Board proposed a number of new regulations, including breeder permits for anyone who breeds a dog in the county.  AKC joined with local breeders and sportsmen to express opposition to this proposal and encourage the committee to develop more reasonable alternatives.

In December 2020, the advisory board voted unanimously to completely table the breeder permits proposal and work with the American Kennel Club Government Relations Department on alternative measures to address their concerns.

Over the past several months, AKC has worked closely with Burke County Animal Services, the Burke County Animal Advisory Board, and local breeders and sportsmen to fully understand the issues and concerns and help develop basic care and conditions standards for breeders.

The result is a compromise measure that incorporates many (but not all) of AKC’s amendments and suggestions, in addition to items added by animal services and the county.  AKC thanks Burke County for discarding the concept of breeder permits and many of the onerous regulations, and for working with and including many of the requests from AKC and local breeders.

You may view the final ordinance proposal on the county’s website (scroll to page 6).  Provisions include the following:

  • Care standards – The proposal includes standards of care for all breeders, including appropriate grooming and veterinary care, proper cleaning and sanitation, and having an emergency plan. Breeders must also have a plan to screen for “known inheritable diseases or potentially disabling health defects” (the proposal does not provide details on this screening program).

    At the request of local breeders, the advisory board agreed to allow breeders to administer their own vaccinations, so long as they comply with these requirements and provide a health record at the time of sale.

  • Regulations for pet sales/transfers by breeders – New requirements include not selling (or transferring) a puppy before 8 weeks of age and providing a buyer with contract similar to that required in state law. The contract should include a return to breeder clause in case the buyer cannot keep the dog for any reason, and the seller should have a “screening tool” in place to check that the buyers will comply with basic standards of animal care. The proposal is not specific on what this tool is, but it is assumed that it means the buyer should properly vet the seller to ensure they understand the responsibilities of pet ownership and will provide proper care for the animal.  In addition, every animal must be sold with a health certificate signed by a veterinarian.

    The advisory board was concerned about roadside sales and buyers not seeing the animal prior to sale.  However, there may be legitimate situations when a buyer or seller may choose to not to meet at the breeder’s property.  As a compromise, this proposal states that off-site transfers and sales are permitted if there is an agreement in writing and the seller notifies animal control of the transfer.

  • Enforcement for Violations – AKC agrees with Burke County Animal Control that the emphasis should be on education and helping owners care for their animals. As such, the first violation of the standards of care or sales regulations will be a warning, and there are fines for subsequent violations.  The advisory board and animal control initially sought mandatory sterilization as a penalty for multiple violations, but compromised with the AKC.  As a result, if there are three violations of a similar nature within 12 months, then sterilization may be required at the discretion of animal control but is not mandated by law.  In this way, sterilization will not be mandated for minor or correctable violations.
  • Tethering requirements – Tethering will be permitted, so long as the tether is 10 feet long, and it is be attached to a collar or harness where at least “two fingers fit between the dog and the collar”. The tie out area must not come within five feet of another property.  On first violation, the owner will receive a warning.  Exemptions may be made in the interest of animal and public safety. Other details may be found in the full proposal link above.
  • Community Ambassador Program/Additions to Advisory Committee Membership – Burke County Animal Services seeks to focus on education and community involvement of dog owners/breeders and is establishing an optional Community Ambassador Program. Breeders who wish to participate in this voluntary program will be inspected to assure compliance with county laws.  Community Ambassadors will serve as consultants to the county on breeding issues.  In addition, a community ambassador will be granted a seat on the county Animal Advisory Committee.

    The committee will also be expanded to include an at-large member that is a large animal owner.

What You Can Do:

While the final ordinance proposal has some remaining questions and areas of concern, AKC greatly appreciates the many amendments and compromises made by the county Animal Advisory Board and Burke County Animal Services to balance their concerns and those of the AKC and local responsible breeders. AKC also greatly appreciates the commission not passing the breeder permits last summer and instead directing the animal advisory committee to develop alternatives.

Those who wish to comment may attend the hearing or respectfully contact the commission as follows:

Hearing Information:
Burke County Commission Meeting
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
6:00 pm
Commissioners’ Meeting Room
110 North Green Street
Morganton, NC 28655

County Commission Contact Information:
Jeffrey D. Brittain, Chair

Scott Mulwee, Vice Chair

Wayne F. Abele, Sr.

Johnnie Carswell

Maynard M. Taylor

For questions or more information, contact AKC Government Relations at