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Commissioners today backed a proposal which would allow Halifax County Animal Control to enforce the county’s ordinance within other municipalities.

Deputy County Manager C. Renee Perry said in documentation this matter has been a topic of conversation within several of the municipalities.

To get to a point where that is accomplished there are several steps that must be taken, she said in the document. "The towns understand that the county will not take on the responsibility of enforcing the town's animal control ordinances, if any."

Therefore, if a town has an ordinance it must be rescinded and a resolution adopted that would allow the county to enforce its already established ordinance.

Thus far there has been no action taken by any of the interested towns — only conversations. "The towns also understand that they must also negotiate an interlocal agreement with the county pursuant to (state general statutes). This agreement must be approved by both elected boards by resolution. The agreement will need to address the county’s commitment to provide enforcement services, and the town’s commitment to assist with funding the added cost of equipment and personnel associated with those services."

Perry said in preparation for this potential change, and with board support and approval, funds have been allocated to an unfunded animal control officer position for the upcoming fiscal year. There would be no additional cost to the county since funds are already allocated in the proposed budget. “The cost has already been determined by taking the population with each interested town and applying their population to the entire Halifax County population to determine what percent that town would be responsible for,” Perry said.

The biggest cost would be for the town of Scotland Neck while Halifax and Littleton represent smaller percentages. Enfield is not moving forward with the plan and Hobgood indicated it could not afford it. Roanoke Rapids has their own animal control officer and Weldon has a part-time officer.

Robert Richardson, county animal control supervisor, told the board, “Any conversations with county management I did express that we are stretched with just our county residents and that we would need another officer just to take on those towns. If we were to take on other bigger towns we may need more but what we’ve been working with for the last 10 to 15 years we’ve made do so we can make it with one other officer.”

Richardson said he has talked with Littleton, whose chief he assisted on an animal cruelty case. “He did express a need. Basically, we can make it work.”

County Attorney Glynn Rollins said a motion on the matter was not needed — only the board’s authorization. “What’s going to happen is we’re going to have an interlocal agreement and that will require adoption of a resolution at a later time.”

Each town would adopt a resolution to make the county ordinance applicable in their towns, Rollins said. “We enforce our ordinance in the towns through the interlocal agreement and they would help fund it ...”

County Manager Dia Denton said the discussion was born particularly out of the town of Scotland Neck which requested assistance with animal control. “After discussions with the health department and animal control we decided if we were to take on one or more municipalities we would need a staff member. This is from multiple conversations from the towns requesting that the county assist them.”