Ian Silver, Live 5 News
CHARELESTON, SC (WCSC) - Four new dog laws have been proposed to Charleston City Council. Two are already approved, and the other two still under discussion. But things can get pretty controversial when the government tries to tell people what to do with their pets.
"He is my best and most loyal friend."
Walter Carr says the City of Charleston has no business telling him what to do with his dog, Thumper.
City Council already gave initial approval to an ordinance that would force people to have their dogs tied down or in a crate if they ride in the back of a pickup truck. "It's a Southern tradition if not a national tradition to allow your dogs to ride in the back of your pickup truck."
And Carr says tying Thumper up doesn't make things any safer. "What if it's... they fall out and the leash is attached to something and they break their neck or they get drug behind the vehicle."
But it's an ordinance about sterilizing stray dogs that has sparked more controversy. Charlie Karesh with Charleston Animal Society says the current law about spaying and neutering dogs picked up off the street is just fine. "If an animal is at large, which is a violation of the law, before it's returned to the owner to be spayed or neutered."
"We get 12,000 animals a year in our facility and over-population is a problem. These animals at large are a problem. And spay neuter is the only answer to that."
But a proposed ordinance would allow pet owners to pay a $200 fine rather than have their dog fixed. But Karesh says that's not enough to deal with the over-population problem. "I think it's too low at $200. And I think it needs to be higher than that. I don't think it's a detriment to do that."
Walter Carr says the city should have no right to sterilize without the owner's consent and the new ordinance would at least give people an option. "Thumper has been neutered. And I did that on my own. But for Big Brother to do it? That's an outrage."
The new law on dogs in pickup trucks has already received initial approval and is expected to pass on second and third readings.
The ordinance on sterilization has been deferred until january while city council members negotiate the terms with animal shelter leaders across the city.
Two other dog ordinances also proposed.
The first requires that animals be a leash whenever they're outdoors except on the owner's personal property or at dog parks. That proposal has received initial approval.
He second was an ordinance meant to clarify that city residents can have up to three dogs and three cats over the age of one. That ordinance was deferred.