The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners enacted a comprehensive animal control ordinance on November 8, 1999. This innovative and progressive ordinance--praised by regional and national animal-care and control organizations--was designed to improve public safety, prevent animal bites, and provide greater protection for animals in Forsyth County. Residents of the county who own animals should be aware of the major components of the ordinance. In October of 2016 section 6.6 regarding tethering of animals was amended to ban this practice with very limited exceptions. Anyone who is experiencing an animal related problem or who would like more information about the ordinance should call the animal shelter at 703-2490.
To view the complete Animal Control Ordinance, go to Forsyth County Code and select Chapter 6 from the left panel.
BE IT ORDAINED by the Board of Commissioners of Forsyth County that Chapter 6 of the Forsyth County Code is hereby amended to read as follows:
That section 6-6 of the Forsyth County Code is hereby amended by replacing section 6-6(d) with the following, so as amended, to read:
(d) Tethering. It shall be unlawful for any person to restrain a dog using a chain, wire or other
type of tethering device in a manner prohibited by this subsection.
1. No person shall tether, fasten, chain, tie, or restrain a dog, or cause such restraining of a dog, to a tree, fence, post, dog house, or other stationary object. During periods of tethering that are not unlawful under this subsection, any tethering device used shall be at least ten feet in length and attached in such a manner as to prevent strangulation or other injury to the dog or entanglement with objects.
2. No person shall tether, fasten, chain, tie, or restrain a dog, or cause such restraining of a dog, to a cable trolley system, that allows movement of the restraining device. During periods of tethering that are not unlawful under this subsection, the length of the cable along which the tethering device can move must be at least ten feet, and the tethering device must be of such length that the dog is able to move ten feet away from the cable perpendicularly and attached in such a manner as to prevent strangulation or other injury to the dog and entanglement with objects. During periods of lawful tethering under this subsection, tethers must be made of rope, twine, cord, or similar material with a swivel on one end or must be made of a chain that is at least ten feet in length with swivels on both ends and which does not exceed ten percent of the dog's body weight. All collars or harnesses used for the purpose of the lawful tethering of a dog must be made of nylon or leather.
3. No person shall tether a dog with a chain or wire or other device to, or cause such attachment to, any collar other than a buckle type collar or body harness.
4. No person shall tether with a chain or a wire or other device to, or cause such attachment to, a head harness, choke-chain type collar or spiked/pointed studded/pronged collar to a dog.
The animal control director has the authority to instruct an animal owner to confine an animal if it has been damaging or soiling the property of others, turning over garbage, impeding the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists or motorists, or creating a nuisance in any other way.
|Dogs||Cats||Duplicate Tag||Late Fee|
Animal owners must keep their animals on their property or under restraint by a competent person at all times. Hunting dogs are excluded from these regulations as long as the dogs are hunting legally and not trespassing.
The City of Winston-Salem and the incorporated towns within Forsyth County have enacted local leash laws that are enforced by the Department of Animal Control. These laws require that dogs must be leashed when visiting any public park.
Animal owners must not allow their animals to bite a human being. "Bite" includes oral contact that scratches or breaks the skin. Animals that bite may be impounded and preventive measures may be required of their owners (see below). Because un-neutered animals are most likely to bite, owners are encouraged to have their animals spayed or neutered. Spaying or neutering not only helps reduce the number of animal bites but also helps to reduce the number of unwanted animals that are brought to the animal shelter each year.
The animal control department can require fence installation and repair and other confinement measures when these are deemed necessary in order to prevent animal bites. The department can impose these "preventive measures" after considering factors such as the animal's behavior, temperament and size, whether there are children in the area under the age of thirteen (13), and the safety of residents in the immediate area. The department also has the authority to require an animal's owner to obtain liability insurance for the benefit of any person who may be injured by the animal. Animal control can terminate ownership rights in severe cases, and owners do not have any recourse to a hearing or appeal. (The preventive measures program replaced the dangerous dog program formerly managed by the health department.)
Proper Shelter Defined
Animals kept outside must have a shelter that includes three sides, a roof and a floor (barns are excluded from this last requirement). Outside shelters must be structurally sound as well as wind and water resistant.
Dogs, cats and other pets must be vaccinated against rabies at three (3) months of age and must receive rabies booster shots as required. Dogs must wear a current rabies tag on a collar or harness. Failure to have both tags on a dog's collar could result in costly penalties. Cats are not required to wear a rabies tag but their owners must be able to provide written proof of vaccination.
Every animal that has bitten a person shall be confined for ten (10) days at the direction of the animal control department and at the expense of the animal's owner. Failure to report an animal bite or the whereabouts of an animal that has bitten is unlawful.
Any animal that appears lost, strayed or abandoned, that is found not wearing a valid tax tag and current rabies tag, or is found running at large, shall be impounded by the animal control department. Animals may also be brought to the shelter by a concerned citizen. Depending on the circumstances, the animal's owner may be subject to fines and penalties, which increase with each new offense.
The owner of an impounded animal may redeem the animal within five (5) days of impoundment by paying all fees and penalties due. Failure to reclaim an animal does not relieve the animal's owner from paying all applicable fees and penalties.
Every dog and cat reclaimed by its owner will be microchipped prior to its release. All animals adopted from Forsyth County Animal Control are also microchipped before going to their new homes. A microchip is a tiny, passive electronic device implanted under an animal's skin that serves a permanent identification marker. If a microchipped animal is brought to the shelter, identifying that animal is easier than identifying one that has not been microchipped.
The person or business engaged in aggression training of dogs must register the dog with the department of animal control. Guard or aggression-trained dogs must wear a guard-dog tag.
No person or business may possess, harbor or have an inherently dangerous exotic animal or wild animal. Exemptions to this rule include lawfully operated pet shops, zoos, veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitators with proper permits and scientific research facilities.
|First Offense||$50 and microchip|
|Second Offense||$75 and microchip|
|Third Offense||$150 and microchip and animal must be spayed or neutered and a secure enclosure must be provided for the animal|
|Fourth Offense||$200 and microchip and animal must be spayed or neutered and a secure enclosure must be provided for the animal|
|Fifth/Successive||$500 and seizure|
|Failure to comply with a written order||$100|
|Violations accumulate per owner, not per animal.|
Criminal Penalties. Persons violating this ordinance shall be guilty of a class three (3) misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than $500.
Civil Penalties. Persons who violate this chapter shall be subject to a civil penalty for each violation in the amount established by the board of county commissioners.
Citations. The animal control department is authorized to issue written citations to violators of this chapter. The penalty must be paid within 72 hours. No impounded animal may be redeemed until all penalties are paid in full.
The material presented on this page is intended as a summary of the animal control ordinance and is provided for educational purposes only. Anyone with a specific legal question should consult the full text of the ordinance.
Starting Monday, September 18th our hours will be changing. During this transitional period, we will have limited hours due to staffing. Beginning Monday our hours will be as follows:
We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause.