A long-awaited animal control ordinance for unincorporated areas of Camden County has been approved by the Camden County Commission.

A long-awaited animal control ordinance for unincorporated areas of Camden County has been approved by the Camden County Commission.

Citing a lack of statewide laws governing animal control and frequent complaints, county officials are hoping adopting a county-wide ordinance will force residents to take responsibility.

Although Camden County doesn’t have a facility, the county will work with existing shelters and animal clinics to house animals the county is forced to pick up.  

Camden County Associate Commissioner Bev Thomas said the ordinance will be a work in progress, seeing what is effective and what may need to be changed.

The ordinance imposes tighter regulation on dogs and cats, with an emphasis on animals that are allowed to roam. Pet owners in Camden County must not only be able to prove their pets have rabies vaccines but must also have animals microchipped and for females that are not spayed, there will be an annual fee. 

Fines for violations for first offenses will range from $50 to $200. Second offenses can run $100 to $500. There are also provisions for jail time not to exceed 30 days and/or community service for persistent offenders. Court fines will also be applied as well as any charges that may be incurred from impoundment or treatment involving an animal. 

The ordinance will be administered by the Camden County Health Department and will allow law enforcement, specifically the Camden County Sheriff’s Department to issue citations to those who don’t comply. The rule was approved earlier this week. 

The Camden County Animal Control officer currently handles about 1,000 calls annually. Everything from abandoned and neglected animals to situations where aggressive behavior is involved. 

The ordinance gives the sheriff’s department the right to impound an animal if it is considered to be dangerous.