During these trying times, while everyone has been strongly suggested to stay home when they can, the only thing to do to get out of the house may be to take your pets on a walk. However, with more pets out and about, it is still important to abide by the laws with respect to having your pet on a leash, or some type of restraint when it is not on your property.
Section 5-9 of the New Hanover County Ordinance states:
a. It shall be unlawful for any owner of a dog, cat, or ferret to allow it to run at large off the premises of its owner.
b. Upon an animal services officer’s observation of a dog, cat, or ferret running at large, or off the premises of its owner and not under the restraint of a competent person, the officer, may, at his discretion, impound the dog, cat, or ferret or return it to its owner.
c. Upon an animal services officer’s receipt of a complaint that a dog, cat, or ferret is running at large or is off the premises of its owner and not under the restraint of a competent person, the officer shall investigate the complaint; and upon finding that there is probable cause that a violation has occurred, the officer may issue a citation or a warning or take any other action contained in this chapter or any state law as the circumstances may require.
d. Any owner cited for a violation of this chapter may discharge the citation upon payment of the current fee schedule adopted by the board county commissioners. If the dog, cat, or ferret is impounded, the owner may redeem the dog, cat, or ferret under the provisions of section 5-17, provided the owner is in compliance with all other applicable provisions of this chapter. If the owner is charged under a warrant, summons, or bill of indictment and convicted, the provisions of section 5-23 shall apply.
A violation would constitute a class 3 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.00.
There are strict leash laws for the beaches here in Wilmington, as well – in the Town of Wrightsville Beach, pets must always be on a leash from October 1 through March 31. From April 1 through September 30, no pets are allowed on the Wrightsville Beach Strand at all. It is also required that you clean up after your pet, and have the means to do so at all times. Similarly, in Carolina Beach, dogs have to be on a leash from April 1 to September 30. The rest of the year (October 1st-March 31st) dogs are allowed off leash, but they must remain under voice command and the owner must be within a reasonable distance. At North Topsail Beach, dogs must be on a leash from May 15 through September 30. From October 1 to May 14, dogs are not required to be on a leash, but must be under voice command of a responsible person.
While we are all on edge and awaiting news about COVID-19 day by day, please take some time to take your pet on a walk to enjoy some fresh air, but also please be responsible, abide by the laws, and respect your neighbors.
By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal