Dorchester County working to strengthen animal cruelty laws

Dorchester County News

DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD)— There could soon be new rules for pet owners in Dorchester County.

An ordinance that helps to define what is considered animal abuse passed first reading on Monday night at a Dorchester County Council meeting in Saint George.

Dorchester County officials say that there are a lot of loopholes in the current ordinance on animal care that hinder them from prosecuting cases of animal abuse and neglect. By updating and improving the pre-existing ordinance, they are closing the loopholes, so that pet owners can’t get away with animal cruelty.

“We have an animal control ordinance, but unfortunately, the way it has been written previously, allows some loopholes in enforcement,” Tiffany Norton, Public Information Officer for Dorchester County, said.

The county says that they need to revise the laws current in place, to keep dogs & cats in the community safe from neglect and abuse.

“We’re hoping that by closing those loopholes we’ll be able to better enforce the laws going forward and protect our animals in Dorchester County,” Norton said.

The new and improved ordinance lays out new rules that pet owners must follow or risk being prosecuted.

Guidelines for when animals must be treated by a veterinarian will require pet owners to provide care when an animal has suffered an injury.

Restrictions have been set on the type and weight of the chain, rope, or leash that can be used to tether an animal. The tether may not weigh more than one-eighth of the animal’s body weight.

Owners of pets deemed dangerous by animal control officers must now have liability insurance for the pet’s entire lifetime.

“This is a huge step in the animal welfare movement, because prior to this, it has been a little murky,” Kim Almstedt, Executive Director for Dorchester Paws said.

Dorchester Paws is working with the county to help firm up the laws on animal care.

The Executive Director, Kim Almstedt, says the ordinance will allow stray cats to roam free in the community if they are spayed or neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, and have their ears tipped.

“We re-release them back into the community where they were found, so they are a place holder so no other cats can come in. So, this greatly reduces the over pet population problem that we are suffering immensely from currently,” Almstedt said.

The ordinance still must go before Dorchester County Council two times for a vote before going into effect.

For more information on the ordinance, click here.

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