Chapter 6 of the Forsyth County Code establishes both criminal and civil penalties for violations of animal ordinances. Pursuant to NC General Statutes certain acts of cruelty to animals may be charged as felonies. Forsyth County's Animal Control Officers are deputy sheriffs and, as such, are commissioned and may use civil, criminal and impoundment authority to address violations of the County Code.

View Criminal Citations & Outcomes

Approximately a dozen cases, usually cruelty to animals, are charged criminally by Animal Control each year. Over the course of a year about 1,400 civil citations are issued and 3,400 animals seized and impounded. Civil citations may be used in cases of first-time offenders, victimless offenses, and oftentimes for the regulation of dangerous dogs. A summary of civil citation issuance is presented below. +

Civil Citation issuance by Violation +
Licensing/Rabies Vaccination 1,034
At Large/Leash Law 402
Cruelty/General Duties 160
Potentially Dangerous Dog Declarations 143
Vicious Behavior/Biting 48
Dangerous Dog Declarations 30

+ Source: Animal Control Advisory Board 2013 Five Year Plan for Animal Services

Frequently Asked Questions

No. It is not against the law to tether dogs.

Section 6-6 (d) of Chapter 6 Animals of the Forsyth County Code establishes additional penalties, in addition to the animal cruelty and dangerous dog sections of the code, if the tethered animals are subject to neglect or display aggressive behavior.

Sec. 6-6. General duties of keepers of animals.

(d) Restraint and confinement to property. It shall be unlawful for any person to utilize chaining, fastening, leashing, or otherwise tethering to confine dogs in a manner which

  1. constitutes abuse, abandonment, or cruelty as defined in Chapter 6 of the Forsyth County Code; or
  2. subjects the dog to injury by choking or strangling; or
  3. causes neurotic or aggressive behavior; or
  4. subjects the dog to harassment or insect bites so as to cause injury or death, or subjects the dog to attacks by people or other animals, or theft; or
  5. fails to properly protect a female dog during its estrous period from unintentional breeding.
  6. deprives the dog of adequate food, shade, shelter, potable water or proper exercise; or
  7. causes the tether to become entangled with other objects resulting in overturned food or water bowls; or
  8. unduly restricts the dog’s movement; or
  9. results in the dog being confined in its own waste; or
  10. exposes the dog to extreme temperatures for such duration as to cause injury or death.

NC General Statute GS 130 A-192 establishes that Animal Control Officers must "Check to see If the owner’s identification can be found on the animal." If the owner is known, they must be notified in writing to have the animal vaccinated and provide certification of such within 3 days. Once 3 days have passed, the statute is silent on what actions Animal Control officers may take when the owner has been identified. It is Animal Control’s practice to either educate owners to comply, assess civil penalties and/or eventually impound animals.

If the owner’s identification is not on the animal and "the animal Control officer does not otherwise know who the owner is, the animal Control officer may impound the animal" for not less than 72 hours. During impoundment, Animal Control is to make "reasonable efforts" to locate the owner. If not reclaimed by the owner, animals may be (a) returned to the owner, (b) adopted to a new owner, or (c) euthanized.

If the pet owner is known, they must provide proof of the current vaccination within 72 hours, or the animal may be impounded.

Forsyth County Code Article II. Rabies Control, supplements state law by providing a procedure for the enforcement of state laws relating to rabies control. These procedures govern the impoundment and sheltering process and include the issues of civil penalties in addition to the criminal penalties established in state law.

If a dog or cat bites someone, state and local law requires it be quarantined away from people and other animals for 10 days to ensure it is healthy and not carrying the rabies virus. If a rabies vaccination is not current, the animal must be quarantined at the County Animal Shelter or a veterinary hospital. If a dog or cat is possibly exposed to a rabid animal, it must be quarantined for a period of 6 months or destroyed so and tested for rabies.

Hours of Operation

  1. Closed Sunday
  2. 12:00 - 5:00 Monday
  3. 12:00 - 7:00 Tuesday
  4. 12:00 - 5:00 Wednesday
  5. 12:00 - 7:00 Thursday
  6. 12:00 - 5:00 Friday
  7. 12:00 - 5:00 Saturday

County Services

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