Commission adopts law against dogs roaming at large

November 27, 2018

Following a public hearing Monday, Nov. 26, the Mobile County Commission unanimously adopted a state law prohibiting dogs from roaming at large in the unincorporated areas of the county. The law was enacted by the state of Alabama but required approval of the County Commission to take effect within Mobile County. The statute requires owners to keep their dogs confined or leashed. Mobile County Animal Control officers may now ticket dog owners rather than automatically taking dogs to the Mobile County Animal Shelter, increasing the productivity of Animal Control officers and saving an estimated $57,000 to $74,000 annually.

In 2017, Animal Control received 2,768 complaints last year stemming from owned dogs. The new law requires owners to pay a fine of “not less than $2.00 nor more than $50.00,” plus court costs of approximately $250 if their dog is found unrestrained. Strays will continue to be impounded.

All three Commissioners voiced concern the state law does not fully address roaming dog problems, but approved it as a step in the right direction. During the hearing, Commission President Connie Hudson said, “This is most specifically a public safety issue. We need to talk to our legislators about strengthening animal control laws.” Commissioners Jerry Carl and Merceria Ludgood agreed. (Alabama counties may only enact laws approved by the state; counties may not write their own laws.)

Enforcement of the statute is expected to start by year’s end, as soon as Animal Control officers are deputized to write tickets and software tracking and other procedures are put in place.

The enabling state statute is the Code of Alabama 1975 Title 3 Animals Section 3-1-5 Permitting Dogs to Run at Large. This law states that “Every person owning or having in charge any dog or dogs shall at all times confine such dog or dogs to the limits of his own premises or the premises on which such dog or dogs is or are regularly kept. Nothing in this section shall prevent the owner of any dog or dogs or other person or persons having such dog or dogs in his or their charge from allowing such dog or dogs to accompany such owner or other person or persons elsewhere than on the premises on which such dog or dogs is or are regularly kept. Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than $2.00 nor more than $50.00.” The statute can be viewed at the following link: Click on Title 3 Animals; click on Chapter 1; then click on Section 3-1-5.

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