City of Greenville Animal Control Ordinance on keeping stray pets

June 3, 2014

According to the City of Greenville (SC) Animal Control Ordinances, many who tend to strays may in violation of the law.

The city ordinances are very clear on how stray animals are to be held, and their rules aren’t in the best interest of the dog. If this ordinance is followed, Greenville County Animal Care Services are going to be taking in a lot more animals than they do now. Take a look at Section 12-2-10.

Sec. 12-2-10. Keeping stray animals.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person in the city knowingly and intentionally to harbor, feed or keep in possession by confinement or otherwise, without the owner’s permission, any animal which does not belong to him unless he has, within twenty-four (24) hours from the time such animal came into his possession, notified the division. Upon receiving such notice, the division shall take such animal and place it in the animal shelter and shall deal with it as provided in section 12-2-11.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to refuse to surrender any such stray animal to an authorized representative of the division upon demand of such representative. (Ord. No. 2199, § 1, 6-14-90)

In plain English, this means that should you find a stray on your property, you must contact City of Greenville Animal Control within 24 hours. Upon receiving notice you have a stray, animal control will take the animal and place it in the animal shelter, where it will be subject to a legal hold of eight days (Section 12-2-11), giving the owner the chance to reclaim their ‘property.’

The website for the City of Greenville says animals should be held for only 5 days. Hmmmm….does anyone know which is correct? After which time the animal becomes the property of Greenville County Animal Care Services.

This doesn’t apply to what animal control deems a ‘wild animal.’

Any animal occurring or growing in a natural state, not domesticated, cultivated or tamed; having an uncivilized, barbarous or savage mannerism. (Ord. No. 2199, § 1, 6-14-90; Ord. No. 09-02, § 1, 1-5-09) may be killed immediately.

Animal Control gets to make the call on whether a dog or cat could be considered wild.

Good Samaritans would like to keep a poor stray, lost and alone, in a home environment for a few days. Many times social media has been key in reuniting a lost pet with its owner, without ever getting the high-kill shelter in Greenville involved.

You wouldn’t think those who hold and care for a pet to be in violation of any law, should they live in the city limits of Greenville. What would happen, should all of the dogs and cats found as strays be taken immediately to the shelter, as the law seems to say is what should happen?

Animal Control impounds enough, without adding those being harbored illegally. The above ordinances say nothing about Animal Control being able to bend the rules, allowing a stray to remain in the custody of the finder until the legal owner is located. To allow this would be in violation of the ordinances they’re hired to enforce.

The penalty for saving a stray cat or dog is listed below.

Sec. 12-2-43. Same–Penalties.
(a) Any violation of this chapter shall subject the offender to a civil penalty in the amount stated in the Manual of Fees for the City of Greenville. Violators shall be issued a written citation which must be paid to the revenue division of the finance department within five (5) days.
(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a) above, provisions of this chapter may be enforced through equitable remedies issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.

A list of fees can be found on the City of Greenville Police website. It’s unclear whether violation of licensing a pet would be what keeping a stray falls under. A barking stray, considered a public nuisance, would carry a larger fine. A brochure can be downloaded from a link on the left side of this page.

What kind of society have we created, where people are at risk of being cited for performing an act of kindness for a lost and frightened family pet whose only mistake was to lose it’s way? Where else but in South Carolina can a person face being issued a citation for doing what is morally right?

Your comments are welcome.

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