LUMBERTON – Five people and two monkeys attended the Robeson County Commissioners meeting on Monday in opposition to the county’s proposed order that banned keeping wild and dangerous animals.
After the public hearing, Commissioner Wixie Stephens brought a motion to deny the prohibition required by the order. Commissioner John Cummings seconded the motion.
Board chair Faline Dial has asked Gary Locklear, an attorney for Robeson County, to consider including the exotic pet registration fee at a later date.
Gary Locklear told commissioners he was trying to protect the county from a situation like Wake County in June, in which a poisonous snake escaped. He said he did not expect the rejection the county received regarding the ordinance, and said several letters were sent to the county against its adoption.
âIt’s far from perfect,â Locklear said of the order. “What I think it is is a start.”
Robeson County District Attorney Rob Davis also said the order also took into account the liability associated with first responders, who encounter exotic animals while on duty.
“You can’t regulate stupidity,” said Commissioner David Edge, referring to the behaviors of some pet owners that can lead to dangerous situations.
Edge said he was against the idea of ââexotic pet owners paying a registration fee for animals, an idea discussed at the public hearing but never included in the order.
âWe don’t really have a problem, so why should we try to solve it? Said Edge.
Among the animals mentioned in the proposed prohibition order were felines other than domestic cats, non-human primates, bears, wolves and reptiles (including poisonous, poisonous and giants). The exceptions to the ordinance were educational events or bona fide circuses, according to the draft ordinance. Even then, he demanded that the animals be kept in a building or enclosure and only housed in the county for no more than seven days.
According to the project, anyone who housed dangerous animals would have 24 hours to remove the animal and could face a Class 1 misdemeanor and a $ 500 fine for “each violation.” If the animal was not removed within 48 hours of the notification, Robeson County Animal Control would remove the animal by “reasonable means” which could include euthanasia.
Robeson County animal cruelty investigator Katherine Floyd was the first person to oppose the order. Floyd owns 10 exotic birds and doesn’t want to give them up.
âThese people care about their animals, they love them. They’re inside, they’re not outside wreaking havoc barking all night or trying to bite people, âshe said.
Floyd suggested that a registration fee and a system be put in place instead. As part of the system, animals could be entered into the computer-aided dispatch system, which would alert first responders to the presence of animals in a home. She also spoke about the establishment of emergency evacuation plans for exotic animals.
“I ask you not to ban these animals,” she said. ââ¦ It was expensive to feed these animals. “
Chuck Bowyer, a US Department of Agriculture licensed animal exhibitor, and his wife Kay Bowyer brought Marmoset and Capuchin monkeys to the meeting to advocate against the ban. Both give presentations to schools involving animals. The marmoset is the most commonly kept primate in the United States and the capuchin the second, according to Chuck Bowyer.
Bowyer ultimately said that “the owner is at fault when something goes wrong”.
Jen Davis, who works as a Section 55 officer for North Carolina to enforce state laws that cover the property of reptiles, snakes and crocodilians, has also spoken out against the ban.
Davis has offered to give free training to first responders regarding exotic pets kept in homes, to which they respond.
Davis said several counties have registration systems for pet owners to complete.
âMy question is what are you going to do to protect the business owners who have supported this county for years,â said Shelli Livermore, owner of Carroll’s Pets and Grooming Center in Lumberton.
Livermore said 45% of sales are for reptiles or supplies needed for them. The store sells reptiles like constrictor snakes and lizards.
âMy concern is, under the ordinance, where will I fall as a business owner? ” she said.
In other cases, the commissioners have voted to accept the revisions to the electoral districts of the Robeson County commissioners.
âAs everyone knows, the 2020 census information came out recently and it prompts us to take a look at the population in the districts,â said Janet Robertson, rural transportation planner at the Lumber River Council of Governments.
Robertson took the 2010 results and put the 2020 results there to see if the district populations had increased or decreased.
District 2 was 13.6% below what it should be, she said. Since the district was more than 10% below its target population, a redistribution had to be carried out.
The population has been arranged to expand to some bordering districts like Districts 4, 3 and 7 to improve statistics, Robertson said.
âNow the district is 8.74% below the ideal district, so that meets the guidelines,â she said.
No changes were made to Districts 1, 5, 6 or 8, Robertson told the Robesonian after the meeting.
Fairmont was in Districts 7 and 3 before the changes, Robertson said. The change places Fairmont completely in District 2.
âThe northwest part of Fairmont and surrounding areas have been moved from District 3 to District 2,â Robertson said in a statement.
âThe southern part of Fairmont has moved from District 7 to District 2,â she said in a statement.
District 2 has also expanded to encompass the entire city limits of Maxton.
The commissioners were challenged to share more information with residents on the impacts of the clipping changes by Vanessa Abernathy, director of The Stage at Fairmont and former chair of the Robeson County Arts Council.
âThis is a good time to learn and I pray that the Council of Commissioners takes more time to inform our citizens about the map and how it is going to be changedâ¦â she added.
Red Springs resident Eva Patterson-Heath and Commissioner Elma Patterson asked council, ahead of its decision to approve the redistribution, to consider appointing one commissioner instead of two for the city. The city sits between Districts 4 and 5 and is represented by Commissioners Faline Dial and Judy Sampson.
âWe share common concerns in the city and it would make sense for Red Springs to be served by a county commissioner,â Patterson-Heath said.
âYou have dual representation on this board,â said Edge.
The deadline for submitting district lines to the State Council of Elections is Nov. 17, according to Robertson.
The concept of entering into partnership discussions with Robeson Community College and Robeson County Public Schools to âexplore funding opportunitiesâ for a technical and vocational education center was also approved in the consent agenda. , which was a list of items adopted by vote. .
In other cases, the commissioners came out of a closed session to renew the contract of Robeson County tax administrator Robert Conner for an additional three years. Conner was appointed tax administrator in 2019.
Commissioners also approved a resolution to announce an offer of $ 3,000 for a surplus property consisting of three plots on Liberia Street in Fairmont.
A resolution to accept an offer of $ 3,900 for surplus real estate at Pinwheel Circle in Lumberton was also approved on Monday.
The commissioners also approved surplus equipment from the Robeson County Elections Council and computers for its IT operations department.
The next scheduled meeting will be on November 15 at 6 p.m.