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September 4, 2019

The Swain County (NC) Board of Commissioners has scheduled a public hearing for tomorrow (Thursday, September 5) to get input on the county’s first animal control ordinance.

The proposed ordinance as currently posted on the county website and confirmed by the Clerk to the County Board would establish a county Animal Services Center and Director, and also outline regulations regarding rabies vaccinations, nuisance, dangerous dogs, licensing, and basic care of animals.

Those who reside or participate in AKC events in Swain County are encouraged to attend tomorrow’s hearing and share your comments with the board.  Scroll down for hearing and contact information. 


The county has been working for several years on developing an animal control ordinance.  The proposal currently under discussion has been in development for approximately two years, and the Board of Commissioners is inviting the public to provide input at tomorrow’s hearing.

You can read the proposal in its entirety on the county website.

Highlights of the current posted proposal include:

  • Regulations for owners of dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs – Using the definitions from state law, the county will determine if a dog is dangerous or potentially dangerous upon a written complaint or a reasonable suspicion by the Animal Services Director. An investigation will be made, and any party with an interest in the determination may make an appeal.
    Once a dog is declared dangerous or potentially dangerous, the owner must comply with certain requirements regarding enclosure/fencing, tethering, etc.
  • Regulations regarding nuisance animals – The proposal clarifies that a nuisance animal is not one that is simply barking or howling. All nuisance complaints must be made in writing.  If the complaint is anonymous, it will be noted, but not investigated based solely on that anonymous complaint.
  • Regulations for the treatment and care of animals – The proposal outlines basic rules regarding the treatment of animals, and also would make it illegal to keep an animal in a vehicle under conditions where the health and well-being are in danger. If an animal is found to be in danger in a vehicle, an Animal Services Officer may enter the vehicle only after making a reasonable effort to find the driver.

This section further states that if an animal is severely sick, injured or diseased, it is the owner’s responsibility to obtain veterinary care or relinquish ownership to the county.

  • Establishment of an Animal Services Center and Animal Services Advisory Committee – The proposal would establish a new Animal Services Center for the county to be staffed by Animal Services Officers. These officers, who will be employees of the county, will be charged with enforcing local, state, and federal animal laws as appropriate and investigating complaints.  They will be given the authority to enter a property to enforce laws, but only if consent is freely given or a search warrant is obtained.
    If an animal is found by the officers and impounded by the Animal Services Center, the owner will have 10 days to reclaim the animal.  If an animal is being adopted out from the Animal Services Center (which does NOT include going back to the owner), the dog must be sterilized.
    The proposal will also establish a 5-person Animal Services Advisory Committee to report to the County Commission “about the operations and needs of the Animal Services Center”.  The proposal does not outline the requirements for membership on this advisory committee.

What You Can Do:

  • Attend tomorrow’s hearing and provide your comments on the proposal to the Board of Commissioners. The hearing information is as follows:
    Swain County Board of Commissioners Public Hearing on proposed Animal Control Ordinance
    Thursday, September 5, 2019
    6:00 pm
    Swain County Administration Building Auditorium
    50 Main Street, 3rd Floor
    Bryson City, NC
  • Provide your comments in writing to the Board of Commissioners. Visit the Swain County website for contact information.

For questions or more information, contact AKC Government Relations at