By JONAH LOSSIAH
ONE FEATHER STAFF
On Thursday, Sept. 6, the Swain County Commissioners held a public hearing regarding a proposed animal control ordinance.
The hearing was called to reopen a conversation that has been dormant for a couple of years. It was an excellent showing at the Administrative Building at 50 Main Street, though some complained about the vague direction and advertising for the event.
Currently, Swain County doesn’t have an animal control ordinance or an animal control officer. All complaints regarding stray animals or domestic pet matters go to the Swain County sheriff’s department.
“It’s not our Sheriff’s department to handle this, it’s ours,” said Nancy Jones, a Swain County resident.
Another citizen spoke of an experience they had just recently with an injured cat that was hostile.
“Unfortunately, because we have no animal control, there isn’t much that could be done. We were initially told we had to take the cat home and quarantine it ourselves to determine whether or not the cat is rabid. We have two dogs, two cats, and three children, so that’s not really a fair option for our family. And it’s not fair that the folks that had to do that were put in that position to have to tell us that,” they said.
This ordinance brings forth policies for reporting and retrieving dogs, penalties, and more. The Cherokee One Feather has provided a copy of the current state of the proposed ordinance.
The reception from the citizens of Swain County was overwhelmingly in favor of an ordinance. Many people signed up to speak and told personal stories of issues they’ve had without an ordinance.
There were a couple of people that voiced opposition to an ordinance. Some said that it is currently too vague and that there could be cheaper options than to create an animal control department.
The vague nature was an issue with some supporters as well. One citizen said that the ordinance ‘needs some teeth,’ and others said there need to be more specifics who it comes to who is qualified for the position. Another primary concern was that the ordinance states that there will be a 10-day period in which animal control can find an animal a home. If the animal isn’t adopted or moved in that timeline, the animal would be subject to euthanasia. Some felt that ten days wasn’t nearly long enough.
“These animals, it’s not their fault that they’re lost. And it’s going to take longer than ten days to find somebody to love them. You got plenty of people here that can open their homes and their hearts to these dogs; I don’t think ten days is appropriate,” said Kae Blue, another resident to spoke to the commissioners.
Blue is one of the citizens that say they are firmly for an ordinance, but that it needs some adjustments.
The County Commissioners encouraged those who had issues with the current state of the ordinance to write in those concerns as well as their suggestions. This goes for those that could not attend this public hearing as well.
There are plans to continue the discussion, and the County Commissioners have told the public to expect movement on the issue moving forward. For more information one can visit https://www.swaincountync.gov/Commissioners/commissioners.html.