Editorial: It’s time for the county to adopt a leash law with some teeth
Published 10:41 am Thursday, July 21, 2022
I understand where she is coming from.
I’ve dealt with other people’s dogs for most of my life.
For longer than many of you reading this have been alive, I’ve jogged, bicycled, walked or driven on just about every road in this county (That doesn’t count subdivisions, although I used to like to ride a bicycle through the ones under construction – before all the asphalt and vehicles took over.).
So I know about dogs in Davie County.
So does Kathleen Deringer. And she’s only lived here for about five years. “Never did I expect the years of issues I was to have from neighbor’s dogs, from defacating on my property to growling at me when I go to my mailbox to having them block the street … to chasing them off my porch at 4 in the morning,” she told county commissioners, asking them to adopt a leash law. Drivers have stopped and yelled at her for the behavior of her neighbor’s dogs.
Those same dogs also chase her horses. Last September, she was on one of those horses, with dogs along the fence line chasing. She was bucked off, suffering among many injuries a broken neck, concussion and brain bleed.
She’s got a point here, folks. She bought her property and moved her family here because she wanted to blend in with the peaceful country life. What happened is an ongoing nightmare that isn’t over.
I’ve heard the same things she hears when she calls animal control to complain about the dogs. “We don’t have a leash law in Davie County.” Take photos to document the dogs on your property, she was told. She did, and animal control did take the dog owners to court, declaring the animals a nuisance. They were kept up for a while, but now get out weekly, she told commissioners.
“Please, commissioners, put a leash law in place,” she said. “Establish an ordinance to control loose dogs and constantly barking dogs. It should never have had to come to this. My dream home has not turned out that way. It is time for a change. Davie County is growing and with more families desiring to move here, please make it a safe and enjoyable county for us all.”
I’m not sure if the problem is better or worse than it was in the 1970s, when I started running the roads at all hours. I logged thousands of miles, but was never bitten, though one hound in the city limits of Mocksville did manage to get a tooth stuck in my sock once (He regretted that.). Come to think of it, my only other really scary encounter with a dog also came in Mocksville, where even then, there was a leash law. That shows you that a leash law in itself won’t be enough.
Later in life, I turned to bicycling, and hit the back roads to avoid vehicles. Older and slower, I was an easy target, and was bitten by a dog. Now I live in a subdivision in the country; roaming dogs are common, and often a nuisance.
It was a different administration, but animal control back then suggested I ride with a pistol and take matters into my own hands. Kathleen Derringer heard pretty much the same thing.
Commissioners, she’s right. It’s time for some type of leash law be adopted. We’ve already had one person killed by a rampaging dog, we don’t need to wait for another.
I understand that it isn’t always easy to control your dog. Believe me, I understand that. My dog is a diva, a prima donna who will do what he wants, when he wants. And that sometimes means he walks off our property. But if I thought he had ever caused a problem with a neighbor – real or perceived – he would immediately go to doggy prison. If all dog owners thought like this, there wouldn’t be a problem. But they don’t. And those of you with a lot of acreage, farmers with dogs, don’t worry. Unless your animals regularly get off your property and create mayhem elsewhere, you won’t have a problem.
Remember that adopting the ordinance won’t be enough. It will have to be enforced, which likely will mean more staff for animal control. We don’t need another ordinance with no plans for enforcement.
It’s a delicate balance between funding and our safety, commissioners. At the very least, take a serious look at adopting some type of enforceable ordinance to protect us.
– Mike Barnhardt