Backlog Of Animal Control Cases Frustrating Forsyth County Homeowners

Cases Of Potentially Dangerous Dogs Affected

RURAL HALL, NC -- A 2 Wants 2 Know viewer whose dog was viciously attacked by two pit bulls will have to wait a little longer to see if the owner of the pit bulls will take precautions to keep the incident from happening again.
The attack was in August.
Gerald Kirkland let his dogs out into his yard, two dogs next door dug under a fence, came into his backyard and attacked his 10-year-old Shih Tzu.

Kirkland's neighbor doesn't have to secure her dogs in her yard while her appeal is still pending. Forsyth County Animal Control blames a backlog of appeal cases in the system.

“Neighbors are concerned if there's a dog next door they are afraid of,” Tim Jennings, the animal control director said.
The county is currently trying to schedule the appeal hearings of 20 dangerous and potentially dangerous animal cases. Some going all the way back to March.

State law says these hearings should be scheduled within 10 days of an appeal.
But that same law also allows cities and counties to set their own limits.
The goal in Forsyth County? 60 days.

But at one point the backlog was 9 months.

“We have a lot of serious issues come up. Dog bites. Dogs fighting dogs, attacking other animals. Still, these are family pets. Bad things often happen but they are still someone's loved animal,” Jennings said.

The animal control director explains that the problem is in part due to the fact that the hearings are done by volunteers who only meet once every other month.

“People want to fight for their pets. And there's incredible emotions involved. And we would like to expedited as fast as possible,” he said.
But it's not happening fast enough for dog owners like Gerald Kirkland.

“It's terrifying,” he said.

Jennings says pet owners have to allow time for the process to play out.
“People are always innocent until found guilty. We can't, as much as we would like, protect people from what if type of situations,” he explained. “There aren't the resources to take every animal and hold it in a county facility. Our county shelter is maxed out at all times.”

Kirkland is left wondering what could happen to his dogs or his family.

“What we're afraid of is that they're going to attack one of our grand kids. Because we have grandkids out in the backyard playing,” he said.

The hearing board has acknowledged the backlog.
In a recent meeting, the board decided that until it's cleared, there'll be two hearings each month starting January.

On average, Forsyth County Animal Control gets a 14,000 complaints a year and Jennings says that means more citations and more appeals and consequentially, a persistent backlog problem.


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