Tyker Gonzales of Cruelty in Craven wants ordinance to include hunting and work animals. As presented, the ordinance only covers house pets.

A long-awaited draft ordinance on tethering animals was unveiled by the Craven County commissioners at a work session and will go to a public hearing at the July evening meeting of the board.

The board was approached numerous times by animal rights group Cruelty in Craven about enacting an ordinance on animal cruelty, with a focus on dogs.

Representatives of that group have spoken at length on the matter and members showed up at one commissioners’ meeting wearing heaving chains around their necks.

The three-page document may undergo further changes, according to County Manager Jack Veit, pending changes by commissioners and public suggestions.

The ordinance does not have a time limit on which animals can be tethered or restrained.

The ordinance limits its scope to household animals – “a domesticated or tame animal that is kept primarily as a pet.”

The ordinance points out that it does not include animals kept for hunting, farm animals, service animals and working animals.

It provides definitions for adequate food and water and stipulates that shelter must be provided.

It also prohibits choke chains, ropes and wire. Buckle-style collars and body harnesses are allowed.

The prohibition on tethering section also has tethering device rules – not less than 10 feet; have swivel hardware at each end; and not weigh more than one-eighth of the animal's weight.

The tethering area must be a minimum of 150 square feet and be clean.

The shelter must be a structure with at least three sides, with a roof, offering protection from adverse weather.

The draft ordinance was not well received by Cruelty in Craven leader Tyker Gonzales, who attended the work session.

“They handed it out and I sat there 20 or 30 minutes and saw where they had excluded all hunting dogs and watched a couple of knives being stuck in my back, and I left before I lost my witness to Christ,” she said. “I left the meeting seething.”

Among her complaints was the limitation of the ordinance to household animals, excluding hunting dogs, which she said are the second most problematic and euthanized canines in Craven County, behind pitt bulls.

She also complained that her group had also asked for an overall animal cruelty ordinance for the county.

A major beef for Gonzales was no time limits on tethering. Her group sought a two-hour limit within a 24-hour period.

She outlined those and other objections and corrections in writing following the meeting.

Gonzales said she and her group will be out in force for the public hearing, adding that she is hopeful that the Human Society of the United States will also send representatives. That group has been instrumental in a number of raids concerning tethered and abused dogs in the area.

Charlie Hall can be reached at 252-635-5667 or 252-259-7585, or charlie.hall@newbernsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @CharlieHallNBSJ