Looking back: Dog ordinances to be enforced

Published 2:03 pm Friday, April 24, 2015

by Clyde Parker

APRIL 24, 1965

The Franklin City Council, City Manager Harold Atkinson, Police Chief Willie Burrow and a delegation of residents from the West Franklin area discussed the City’s, and especially the West Franklin area’s, dog problem Monday night. The dog discussion included concerns of two letter writers who complained about dogs being nuisances and asked the City to do something about them.

Earlier in the evening, Atkinson presented a petition signed by 78 persons in the West Franklin area. The petition stated that the signers felt that an ordinance requiring dogs to be penned-up for more than two weeks a year should not be enacted.

West Franklin residents John Munford, Bob Allport and Wyatt Shorter, all of whom signed the petition, were in attendance at the meeting. Spokesman Munford said he had gotten the impression from newspaper accounts that the City Council has been dealing with the dog problem for a while and that an ordinance requiring dogs to be penned-up either at all times or for a set period each day, such as from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m., was going to be enacted.

“I can’t help that,” Atkinson said. “We don’t write the news stories.”

Atkinson went on to say that he and Chief Burrow do not feel now — nor have they ever felt — that dogs should be penned-up at all times.

After the concerns and recommendations were heard, and following the ensuing discussions and final arguments, this is what was decided:

“The City’s PRESENT dog ordinances will be strictly enforced,” Atkinson said. Atkinson made that recommendation to the City Council. “In lieu of enacting any additional dog ordinances, we ask the Police Department to rigidly enforce the ones that are presently on the books,” he said.

There is an existing City ordinance forbidding any dog owner to allow his pet to go onto other person’s property and commit acts of destruction, such as destroying or injuring vegetation, shrubbery, flowers or any other property damage.

The ordinance provides for a fine of not more that $500 or imprisonment of not more that 12 months, or both.

In making a motion that the present dog ordinances be affirmed and that an annual 30-day dog-penning requirement be put into force, Councilman Floyd Briggs said “There comes a time when we must realize that people are more important than dogs.”

The motion as presented by Briggs was approved, with Pretlow dissenting.

Chief Burrow, after being recognized and given the floor by Mayor Darden Jones, said “I feel we have a strong enough dog ordinance on the books if the people will help us enforce them. From now on, when a person calls with a dog complaint, we will ask them whose dog has been doing the damage, and if they are willing to sign a complaint and appear in Court to testify against the dog owner. If the people won’t do this, then we will not answer the complaint.”

All dogs in Franklin must be penned up or be on a leash for a 30 day period, starting later this month. Atkinson said that the purpose behind the 30-day dog-penning ordinance is to check for stray dogs and to check licenses and rabies tags. Chief Burrow said that it will take at least 30 days for his department to check all the dogs in Franklin. “We have other things to do besides check dog licenses and pick up stray dogs,” he said.

Atkinson, in reiterating, said if the residents will cooperate, strict enforcement of the present ordinance will solve the dog problem. “If we find that the people are not cooperating with us, then a stricter ordinance, including permanent penning, may be considered,” he said.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is magnolia101@charter.net.