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Fries looks at limiting animals per home

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Town continues to refine a nuisance animal ordinance, and could impose a limit on the number of pets per household.

By Patrick Smith

FRIES — Grayson County’s animal control officer says limiting the number of pets per residence could solve many animal-related problems in the Town of Fries.
A limit of three animals per household — similar to the City of Galax’s ordinance — could cut down on noise complaints, for example.
At its May 7 meeting, Fries Town Council revisited revisions to an animal control ordinance that were made in April.
Grayson County Animal Control Chief Glenn Richardson was in attendance and explained how the ordinance could be enforced, provided suggestions on how it could be improved and answered questions from council and citizens. Richardson said his department has been working to educate citizens in Fries on the new ordinance and what is defined as a nuisance.
He said copies of the ordinance have been distributed around town.
Richardson encouraged citizens to log any incidents involving excessive animal noise or nuisances with an estimated time of occurrence and time of the nuisance duration. “The best way to approach this is that once you get three occurrences in a calender week, then that is something you can bring to our attention, and we’ll go talk to [the animal’s owner] and let them know,” continued Richardson. “If it continues, then we encourage the complainant to go to the magistrate and file appropriate charges.”
Richardson went on to explain that the complainant would have to appear in court and has to testify before a judge. The charge would be considered a misdemeanor, and Richardson stressed that his department would not remove the animal in question from private properties unless there is legal permission through the courts to remedy or mitigate a specific situation.
Richardson also praised the City of Galax’s current code and “highly encouraged” Fries to consider adopting a similar ordinance, which states that no single residence is allowed to purchase more than three dog licenses.
“If you have four dogs, but you’re only allowed three licenses, you have one unlicensed dog on your property, which allows us to file a summons on that extra animal,” explained Richardson.
“This is something that has proven effective to where we can limit the number of animals in a close-knit residential area, such as the Town of Fries.”
Richardson said there is currently no limit on how many animals could live at a residence in Fries, as long as the animals were receiving adequate care.
Town Manager Brian Reed also pointed out that Grayson County sells licenses, but the Town of Fries doesn’t. He said the town would likely need to hold a public hearing before adopting a similar limited licenses ordinance.
“If we can limit the number of animals per resident, you’re looking at solving al lot of these other long-term issues,” said Richardson. “I would definitely encourage [a public hearing] because if we tell [town residents] they can only have ‘x’ number of dogs, it gives them a chance to voice their opinion on that and it’s a fair way of handling it.”
Council Member Marie Isom asked if the ordinance would include puppies. Richardson answered that pups are not required to be licensed until they are four months or older. He added that wean time for pups is usually around eight weeks, so owners could still have two months to give them away after that time.
Richardson also explained that dogs running at large through the town can be picked up by animal control, but if the dog is licensed it will be returned to its owner.
Dogs that show aggression cannot be picked up unless they bite or cause physical harm to an individual. However, he said state code allowed dogs to be killed on the spot if they attack livestock or are caught in the act of physically harming a person.
Richardson was asked if cats are required to be licensed, and he answered that cats are only required to be vaccinated for rabies.
However, cats can be picked up if they cause excessive problems, and humane traps can be used to catch strays. Richardson said that a cat could be held in a trap for up to 24 hours before his department picked it up, as long as it is provided food and water.

Richardson said anyone with further questions or concerns can call his office’s message line at (276) 773-8553. He said if there is an emergency or animal attack, call the Grayson County Sheriff’s Department at (276) 773-3241.