The American Kennel Club (AKC) learned today that the Orangeburg County Council will hold a final vote on Monday, October 13, 2023, on a problematic proposed animal ordinance.
Residents are urged to immediately contact county council members and respectfully ask them to VOTE NO on the proposed animal ordinance until after it can be substantially amended and the amended version is made available for public review. Please scroll down for council member contact information.
Among other problematic provisions and incorrect definitions, the proposed ordinance would:
- Require dog and cat owners to register and license their pets at a fee of $50 per year for unsterilized pets aged six months and older. The fee would be $1 a year or $5 for three years for a spayed/neutered pet. Penalties for failure to register and license a pet would range from a warning ticket up to fines of $500 and 90 days imprisonment.
Exemptions from registration and licensing include spayed/neutered dogs adopted from a 501(c)3 rescue organization, a “certified” service animal, certain pets owned by keepers aged 65 or older, pets for which a veterinarian states that due to health reasons could not withstand surgery, animals with proof of participation in a nationally recognized conformation or performance event within the past twelve months, and dogs currently used for hunting purposes and that have proof of registration with a nationally recognized organization that sanctions hunting tests and/or field trials. This provision appears to not exempt unregistered hunting dogs and registered hunting dogs that do not compete in tests/trials.
A different fee structure of $30 per pet would apply to businesses previously registered with County Animal Control as “kennels.”
- Restrict tethering of dogs outdoors. While some of the proposed tethering provisions are appropriate, certain sections would establish conditions potentially hazardous for a tethered dog, would require the use of tethers of unreasonable lengths, and would require use of collars of widths not suitable for smaller dogs. For example, the requirement that a tethered dog must be provided at all times with access to food would potentially attract ants, flies, bees, and vermin, and allow uneaten food to spoil.
- Increase penalties, including fines of $250 to $500 and imprisonment for 30 to 90 days for second and subsequent violations of provisions of Chapter 4, Animal Control. This would include a second occurrence of having the wrong length tether, a barking dog issue, and other minor violations.
- Enact an undefined “emergency veterinary cost” upon conviction for an undefined “criminal offense” that would require payment to animal control for the costs of care of the impounded animal, and would terminate ownership of the animal. These provisions are contrary to state law.
- Define only “three sided” structures as “adequate shelter” for an animal.
- Require the director and the director’s undefined and potentially uncredentialled “designees” to euthanize any animal that is in need of “immediate medical attention that is beyond the County’s limitations.” It is unclear if the director or designee would be required to attempt to contact the animal’s owner so that the owner could redeem the animal and provide necessary veterinary care.
- Grant extraordinary powers to the animal control department, the director, and the director’s undefined and potentially uncredentialed “designees,” including:
- Authority to transfer impounded animals to foster care providers without also establishing regulations and oversight for such fosters. Further, the proposed ordinance does not include provisions to ensure that a lost pet held by a foster care provider can be readily identified and redeemed by its owner.
- Authority to determine if a person who is found guilty by a court of neglect, abandonment, or animal cruelty shall be allowed to redeem their animal. Decisions regarding termination of an animal owner’s property rights should be made by a court and not by a county employee or “designee.”
- Empower the animal control director to appoint undefined and potentially uncredentialed “designees” who would be authorized to conduct kennel inspections, determine if an animal is dangerous, and determine if an animal shall be impounded or euthanized.
The proposed ordinance would apply to county residents. However, residents of the municipalities within the county should be gravely concerned that these problematic provisions could be enacted in their own cities and towns.
According to county staff, the final vote on the proposed ordinance will be on the agenda for the council meeting on Monday, October 13, 2023, at 5:30pm. Public comment will be accepted at the meeting.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Residents of Orangeburg County are urged to:
- Immediately contact county council members and politely ask them to VOTE NO on the ordinance as it is currently drafted so that numerous problematic sections and incorrect definitions can be amended. Also ask that the amended version be made available for public review prior to any future vote. Please be respectful!
Johnnie Wright Sr., Chairman, Phone: 803-492-7436
Johnny Ravenell, Vice Chair, Phone: 803-854-4452
Kenneth “MAC” McCaster, Mobile Phone: 803-290-1473
Joseph Garvin, Mobile Phone: 803-606-6097
Janie Cooper-Smith, Phone: 803-536-6447
Deloris Frazier, Phone: 803-534-8589
Latisha Walker, Phone: 803-308-7152
- Attend the meeting on Monday, October 16, 2023, at 5:30pm to state your concerns and ask council members to VOTE NO on the ordinance as it is currently drafted. Ask that it be substantially amended, and that the amended version be made public prior to any future vote. Meeting location is the County Admin Centre, 1437 Amelia Street, Council Chambers, 1st Floor, Orangeburg, SC 29115.
For talking points, please visit www.akcgr.org and view the GR Toolbox and Key Issues pages.
Please contact AKC Government Relations at email@example.com or 919-816-3720 for more information.