Johnston County Commissioners on June 6 amended Johnston’s animal-control ordinance, making changes large and small.
Most notably, under the amended ordinance, violations of the county law are no longer criminal misdemeanors. Instead, they are civil matters, subject to fines but no jail time.
County Attorney Jennifer Slusser presented the changes, which include definitions for such terms as abandonment, cruel treatment, tethering, adequate food, water, shelter and shade.
Another addition to the ordinance is a 72-hour hold for certain animals seized by animal-control officers. Slusser noted that the amended ordinance is subject to state laws, which take precedence.
People who want to appeal fines stemming from violations of the county ordinance will have to appear before the Johnston County Board of Adjustment.
One county resident spoke about the changes during a public hearing. Ken Taylor of Clayton had several questions, mostly about the definition of adequate shelter.
He also faulted commissioners for scheduling a vote on the amended ordinance just minutes after the public hearing. He encouraged commissioners to take time before making a decision.
Board Chairman Tony Braswell said the county held the public hearing because state law required it. County staff added the ordinance was complaint driven, and commissioners said they wanted to approve rather than wait.
Commissioner Allen Mims asked Taylor to work with Slusser on any issues he had with the ordinance so that the board could amend later if needed.
High demand for emergency medical services in western Johnston prompted commissioners to agree to station a second ambulance and crew at 50-210 EMS.
The Johnston County EMS Advisory Committee recommended that the county station a second ambulance at McGee’s Crossroads between the peak hours of 7 a.m to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Money for the crew and ambulance is already in the budget.
In all, the second crew will be available 60 hours a week, filling gaps in existing coverage.
Commissioner Chad Stewart asked that staff report back after one to two months to demonstrate how effective the additional ambulance and crew were in meeting area demand.
Abbie Bennett: 919-553-7234, Ext. 101; @AbbieRBennett