The vicious mauling of a 70-year-old North Carolina woman in December 2022 has led to changes in the Pender County animal ordinance. The Pender Country Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the changes on Jan. 17. The revised animal ordinance clarifies the definition of adequate shelter for animals kept outdoors and introduces strict new tethering guidelines. Penalties for violating the ordinance have also been stiffened. Violators now face $50 citations and the possible loss of their animals.
The woman was attacked on Holiday Drive in Hampstead at approximately 2:05 p.m. Police were alerted when a local resident reported that an elderly woman was lying on the ground in his backyard. Police determined that she had been mauled by two dogs that had been left chained up in front of an adjacent property. The woman was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment, but she succumbed to her injuries the following day. The two dogs were subsequently euthanized. The dogs’ owner was not charged.
Revised animal ordinance
The woman’s widower spoke to the Pender County Board of Commissioners before they voted on the animal ordinance revisions. The officials also heard from an expert who told them that dogs left chained up often become aggressive because their confinement makes them feel vulnerable and unable to protect themselves, which often leads to dog attacks. The new rules allow tethering, but tethers must allow free movement, be at least 10 feet long and be attached to harnesses rather than collars.
It should not take a tragedy
The expert also pointed out that rules similar to the revisions approved by the Pender County Board of Commissioners were already in place in most other parts of the United States and just about every other developed country. It should not take a tragedy to convince officials to take common-sense steps that protect both people and animals, but that seems to be the way events unfolded in Pender County.