HILLSBOROUGH- A second attempt to streamline Orange County’s animal control ordinance hit a roadblock Tuesday as commissioners, residents and animal services staffers wrangled over what it means to be a watchdog.
“I’m not sure that we need a definition of watchdog, per se, but I think we need a definition of an animal that’s on its own property, minding its own business, when a human being comes on the property who is not minding their own business,” said Board Chair Barry Jacobs.
The current ordinance defines a watchdog as any dog that barks or threatens to bite an intruder, but Staff Attorney Annette Moore said that’s too broad.
“It’s meaningless, because there’s no prohibition in the ordinance against anybody having a dog that barks at a person,” Moore told the board.
Animal Services Advisory Board Vice-Chair Michelle Walker said the inclusion of the term in the ordinance only causes confusion when someone gets bitten.
“That’s the public safety concern,” said Walker. “We want to identify dogs that have shown propensity to bite unprovoked by someone who is not on property with any ill intent.”
But commissioners including Mark Dorosin argued that the ordinance needs some added flexibility on the question of who’s liable when a dog bites a trespasser.
“Under the current ordinance there’s a blanket ‘no-liability’ for an owner if a person comes onto their land, and I think the concern of the dog owners is that they don’t want the thing turned 180 degrees so there’s strict liability if their dogs bites anyone,” said Dorosin. “So what we have is these two extreme positions being staked out, neither of which I think serves the interests of the county.”
The ordinance would have required a unanimous vote to pass on the first reading. Instead, the board tabled the item for discussion in two weeks. At that time, commissioners say they want Animal Services staffers to come back with new ideas.
“There’s some galaxy of issues dealing with ‘watchdog’ and ‘trespass’ that I think we’re all asking you to try and address,” said Jacobs. “I think we need more clarity.”
The board was largely in favor of other portions of the new ordinance, including a plan to create a formal appeal process for residents whose animals have been deemed dangerous or vicious.
Commissioners will revisit the animal control ordinance on October 15.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/county-commissioners-want-clarity-on-new-animal-control-rules/
HILLSBOROUGH- A laundry room full of bats lead to Orange County’s ninth confirmed rabies case this year. Officials from Orange County Animal Services say a Hillsborough homeowner reported that a house cat was bitten by a bat on Tuesday.
The owners then found half a dozen bats in the laundry room, which they sealed off from the rest of the house. Animal Services officers removed five of the bats; a sixth bat escaped outside. Tests confirmed the bat killed by the cat was infected with rabies.
The cat was up-to-date on its vaccinations and the family is being evaluated for possible exposure.
Bats and raccoons are the primary source of rabies in North Carolina, but bats pose a greater risk to humans because of their small, hard-to-detect bite marks.
Animal Services Director Bob Marrotto urges residents to contact authorities if a bat is found to have been in a home overnight, or if family pet has contact with a bat.
You can learn more about rabies in Orange County here.http://chapelboro.com/news/health/hillsborough-homeowner-reports-a-room-full-of-rabid-bats/
HILLSBOROUGH- Changing Orange County’s animal control ordinance on the first reading would have required a unanimous vote by the board, but Commissioner Earl McKee made it clear that wasn’t going to happen Tuesday night.
“I won’t be able to support adoption of this because I think the process was wrong, in that we are consolidating not only the various documents, we’re consolidating new recommendations and regulations within that document,” said McKee.
Many said the changes didn’t take into account different conditions in the rural and urban areas. Others worried that the rules would scrap the unofficial designation of “watchdog” to categorize an animal that might protect property, instead recognizing only trained and registered sentry dogs.
“Persons who may roam around inside my fenced backyard, without invitation, especially at night, are trespassers, and they may expect to be barked at, chased and even bitten if they do not flee,” Bob Epting told the board
Commissioners agreed to bring the ordinance back on June 18 for further discussion.
Also delayed was a decision to hire a contractor to help redesign the Northern Human Services Center north of Hillsborough. The building has sat vacant since last year, in part because county staffers say it’s too expensive to heat and cool, and the septic system is too small to accommodate a wide range of uses.
County Manager Frank Clifton suggested an architect could help residents and the board decide how to best re-purpose the historic building into a community center.
“One of the problems that we have technically is as you start to look at those options, you do need an architect and engineer to tell you what will and will not work; what you can and cannot do,” said Clifton. “When you start doing a major renovation of an older structure, it gets into the issue of what do you have to do to meet today’s codes.”
However, residents of the area asked that the signing of the architect’s contract be delayed, saying there needs to be a more formal method for involving the public in the planning process.
“It just feels like we’re throwing a lot of money at something without a real plan,” said Jacqueline McConnell-Graf of Cedar Grove. “And that brings me to the design group. What exactly are they designing? Because I don’t really understand what our plan is. What do we see this facility doing, as a group, and for the north Orange community in particular?”
Commissioners will revisit the issue on June 18 at their last business meeting before summer break. In the meantime, the board will take up budget discussions at a work session on Thursday.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/bocc-puts-animal-ordinance-change-on-hold/
CHAPEL HILL – Orange County Animal Services is reporting another positive rabies test, the sixth in the county this year.
The most recent case originated on May 24, when a resident and her dog encountered an aggressive raccoon while walking on the Eno River Trail. The dog killed the raccoon; Animal Control removed the raccoon for testing and confirmed it was rabid this week.
Fortunately the dog was vaccinated for rabies, but it was injured in the attack.
This is the sixth confirmed rabies case in Orange County this year, about one per month. That’s on par with last year, when there were 12 confirmed cases in the county.
Orange County Animal Services is taking the opportunity to remind residents to have their pets vaccinated: dogs, cats, and ferrets older than four months are legally required to be up to date on their rabies vaccine. The Animal Services Department holds periodic low-cost vaccination clinics throughout the year; their next one is on Saturday, June 15, from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the Animal Services Center on Eubanks Road in Chapel Hill.
For more information and future clinic dates, visit OrangeCountyNC.gov/animalservices.http://chapelboro.com/news/health/ocas-reports-countys-sixth-rabies-case-in-2013/
ORANGE COUNTY – Lab results of a dead two-month-old goat were returned positive for the fifth case in 2013 of rabies in Orange County, according to Animal Services.
The goat lived on a small family farm in northern Orange County and was being treated for various possible illnesses in March and April. The animal was even bottle-fed in the attempt to nurse it back to health.
Post-exposure prophylaxis has been administered to at least three people in the family through the Orange County Health Department. The remaining six goats on the farm have been placed under a six-month quarantine for observation. The family’s dog and cat did not have to receive any treatment as they were not exposed to the animal.
In 2012, 12 positive rabies cases were reported.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/oc-reports-fifth-positive-rabies-case/
CHAPEL HILL - Orange County Animal Services announced Thursday that tests of a fox likely responsible for biting two people in southern Chapel Hill came back positive for rabies.
The fox was caught and killed when it was trying to attack a person’s car in the Dogwood Acres area of Chapel Hill on Wednesday.
While it can’t be certain, Animal Services is confident that this was the fox that bit two people, including one it had to scale part of a ladder to reach. No additional reports have been made since this fox was captured, but people are still advised to use caution until more time has passed.
Wild animals are naturally afraid of people and will likely run away. One with rabies or a similar disease will act friendly or aggressive. Anyone who witnesses a situation like that is urged to call 911 immediately. An Animal Control officer will then be dispatched.http://chapelboro.com/news/fox-suspected-of-biting-two-in-southern-chapel-hill-tested-positive-for-rabies/
CHAPEL HILL – A local painter will join a New York photographer in an arctic exhibit Wednesday evening at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park.
Nerys Levy and Ron Jautz have both visited the north and south arctic regions and through capturing the beauty in their artworks, are speaking to their passion and concern over global climate change.
The reception for the works included in the exhibit Polar Worlds: Images of the Arctic and Antarctic is free and open to the public. It will take place at the National Humanities Center Wednesday from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Town officials, staff, and State dignitaries will be in attendance for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the one-third-mile-long path that stretches from Wilson Park and intersects Estes Drive just south of the railroad tracks.
Thursday’s event is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. and will last approximately one hour. Wilson Park is located on Williams Street near the intersection of Estes Drive and Greensboro Street.
Orange County Animal Services offers a low-cost rabies vaccination clinic Thursday evening.
By North Carolina law, dogs, cats, and ferrets older than four months must be vaccinated at all times and must wear their rabies vaccination tag. Thursday’s event gives local residents the chance to fulfill that requirement for just $10, and Animal Services is accepting cash only for this particular clinic. The vaccine lasts one year.
The Low-Cost Rabies Vaccination Clinic takes place Thursday from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Public Market House on Margaret Street in Hillsborough.