ST PAULS — Time is running out for Larry, Bandit and Sandy.
The three Labrador-mix dogs will be put down Wednesday if the owner cannot come up with at least $300 of what he owes the county pound and provide shelter for the animals that meets requirements set by the county’s vicious animal ordinance.
Frank Eachen, who lives on Norton Road in Lumberton, had 11 dogs in an electrified fence on his property, but only eight remain because three were taken by Robeson County Animal Control on April 22. The animals got out of his yard and attacked another dog, and therefore were deemed “vicous” under a county ordinance.
“The first time I called to check on the dog that was attacked they said he was dead,” Eachen said.
The dog did recover well, but Bill Smith, county Health director, said that is not a mitigating factor. He did say that Eachen’s animal’s had been vaccinated against rabies, which he call “unusual” when dealing with cases involving “vicious” dogs.
After the attack two Robeson County Animal Control officers came to Eachen’s home and took away the three dogs.
The animals are being held and cared for at the Robeson County Animal Shelter until Eachen can provide a proper shelter for the dogs and pays at least part of the money he owes the county for the dogs’ care.
“Owners have to be accountable for their animals,” Smith said.
Dog owners must meet certain county-imposed requirements before they can reclaim dogs that are considered vicious. They must:
— Ensure each animal will be kept in a pen that is a minimum 10-by-10 feet in size.
— Place the pen’s fence on a reinforced concrete pad at least 4 inches thick.
— Have constructed the pen’s fence using chain-link fencing that is constructed of no smaller than 11-gauge welded links that are no greater than 1 1/4 inches and supported by galvanized fence posts at least 2 1/2 inches in diameter and placed no more than six feet apart.
— Have attached the fence to the concrete pad with galvanized steel anchors at intervals no less than one every 12 inches on all sides and have a top made of the same material as the fence.
The dog owner also must ensure the pen is free-standing, not attached or anchored to another fence or structure and marked with 12-by-12 inch warning signs that are visible from all signs and ensure the pen is secured at all times with a keyed lock.
The county approved shelter must be available for animals at all times.
The county vicious animal ordinance also stipulates that the animal may be removed from the secured enclosure only after it has been muzzled and leashed. While outside the animal must remain under the direct control of the owner at all times.
Eachen said he can’t afford to meet the ordinance’s requirements.
“It would be expensive, and if I do it for the three dogs then I will have to do it for the other eight,” Eachen said.
But he claims he built one to county specifications, anyway. Now he must pay the shelter bill.
The shelter is charging Eachen $5 a day per dog to hold and care for the three animals. It has been 50 days since the dogs were taken to the shelter, meaning he owes about $750. The county sent him a letter asking for at least $300 of that.
Eachen said he has used the dogs to protect his home since a home invasion three years ago and that was why he was letting them roam free inside the fence on his property.
“They never bothered anyone or anything, and I don’t know why they attacked the other dog,” Eachen said.
Michelle Andujar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.