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Animal Control

The animal service division consists of 6 sworn officers and a part-time civilian office administrative assistant tasked with protecting the health and wellbeing of the people and domestic animals of Buncombe County.

Our major duties consist of:

  • Responding to calls about dangerous animals.
  • Documenting animal bites and overseeing the performance of rabies protocol in coordination with the Buncombe County Health Department.
  • Investigating reports of animal cruelty and neglect.
  • Picking up sick or injured animals.
  • Picking up stray animals.
  • Investigating complaints about animal nuisance violations.

Animal services officers are on duty from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., 7 days a week for all animal services calls.

Between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. there is an animal control officer on call to respond to emergency calls

In addition to our duties as animal services officers, we also augment other functions of the Sheriff's Office, providing patrols around our county schools and parks, and assisting patrol in responding to their emergency calls.

The Buncombe County Sheriff's Office provides animal services outside of limits of the municipalities in Buncombe County and within the Town of Black Mountain. If you are in need of animal services within the City of Asheville or Towns of Biltmore Forest, Woodfin, Weaverville, or Montreat, please contact the police department for that respective town.

Leash law:

  • If your dog leaves your property it must be restrained on a leash. Fines for violating the leash ordinance range from $50.00-$100.00
  • Your dog may be unrestrained on your property unless you live in an apartment complex or mobile home park or some like area where outside areas are considered a "common area" or where it would otherwise be unreasonable to believe that your pet would remain while unrestrained and unsupervised.
  • Dogs may not be off-lead on right-of-ways, even if the location in question is on the owner's own property.

Rabies vaccinations:

  • All dogs & cats ages 4 months or older must be vaccinated against rabies and are to wear a collar with a tag showing the status of their rabies vaccination. Fines for failure to comply range from $100.00-$500.00

Spay/neuter ordinance and "Breeding" issues

  • All dogs and cats ages 6 months or older must either be spayed or neutered, or the owner must purchase an unaltered permit. The unaltered permit is purchased through the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office and costs $100.00 (this permit is good for the life of the animal). Fines for failure to comply with the spay/neuter ordinance range from $100.00-$500.00
  • No other breeding licenses are required above/beyond an unaltered permit.
  • All female dogs/cats must be confined while in heat to where male animals of their species may not reach them (with the exception of other male animals with unaltered permits). Failure to confined a dog in heat in such a manner may result in fines between $75.00-$250.00

Shelter/Food/Water/Tether/Care issues:

  • Dogs may be tied outside in Buncombe County and The Town of Black Mountain under the following conditions:
    • The tether used must be a light chain or coated cable.
    • The tether may not be made of a material that is overly heavy or that would present harm the animal (i.e. frayed steel cables, log chains, etc).
    • The tether must be at least 10ft long and have a swivel on each end.
    • The animal must be tethered in such a manner that it cannot get entangled with surrounding objects or get out into a road, driveway, parking lot, or other similar area.
    • The tether must be used in conjunction with a collar or harness made of nylon or leather, at least 1 inch in width (chain chokers or attaching a chain or cable directly to the dog's neck is not permissible).
    • The dog must be tethered in such a manner than it can reach its food, water, and shelter, and that it won't knock its water over.
  • Proper shelter consists of a structure with 3 sides, a roof, and a floor, made of non-conductive/insulating material, and of a size that will allow the animal to get inside and turn around comfortably, but not so big that it won't retain enough of the animal's body heat to keep it warm during cold weather.
  • Animals should have access to water at all times.
  • Animals should be fed at least once a day with a sufficient amount and type of food to maintain a healthy body condition.
  • Owners are obligated to tend to illnesses or injuries that their animals sustain and seek vet care if it becomes obvious that they are unable to provide adequate care to prevent unnecessary suffering themselves.

Stray cats:

  • If you have a problem with (a) stray cat(s), please call the Humane Alliance @ 828-450-7550.

Bats inside houses:

  • If you should find a bat inside the living area of your home, and you didn't see it enter, call in to animal services (828-250-6670) so that we may collect the bat and have it tested for rabies. If you have pets in your home, prepare to produce proof of current rabies vaccination for them and get them to the vet's office within 72 hours for a booster shot.

My dog or cat has bitten someone:

  • First of all, don't panic and don't over-react. Secure the animal to where it can't run away or where there's no danger of it biting anyone else. Don't get to worrying that someone is going to take the animal away, and then hide the animal or try to cover up the incident. Also, don't harm the animal. It is very rare that a bite incident results in the seizure of an animal. There are medical reasons that the animal needs to remain alive and in good health, not to mention humanitarian and other legal reasons why the animal should not be harmed.
  • Seek medical treatment for whomever was bitten if needed. If the bite broke the victim's skin, report it to animal services (828-250-6670). This may have already been done by the medical care provider if the victim sought treatment, however make sure that you talk to an animal services officer either way. Try to have rabies shot records available when you file the report.
  • Once an animal services officer has taken a bite report, he/she will let you know about a bite quarantine. The vast majority of the time bite quarantines can be performed in owner's home. Quarantines are done purely to safeguard the health of the victim(s), whether the animal was current on its rabies vaccination or not.
  • At the conclusion of the quarantine an officer will come out and look at the animal to make sure it is healthy, at which time you can usually return business-as-usual.
  • If your dog or cat's rabies vaccination was expired at the time of the bite, wait until the quarantine is over to have it re-vaccinated.

My dog or cat has been in a fight with a wild animal:

  • Try not to handle your pet or bring it indoors until after it has had plenty of time to completely air dry.
  • If your pet is injured and requires immediate vet attention, try to wrap it in a blanket to handle it, and avoid getting blood or saliva on yourself if at all possible. Try limit the number of people exposed to any pathogens that might be on your pet's coat by limiting the number of people that handle it and by not putting your pet anywhere that pathogens might transfer onto other surfaces where other people might come in contact with them.
  • Report the incident to animal services (828-250-6670) as soon as possible.
  • Get your pet to the vet for a “booster” rabies shot within 72 hours.
  • If your pet is not current on its rabies shot at the time of the encounter, it is very important that the wild animal be tested for rabies if the carcass is available (the carcass needs to be picked up as soon as possible and refrigerated or placed on ice, not frozen, if there is going to be a delay in pickup). If the attacking animal comes back positive for rabies or if it is unavailable, animal services will consult with the disease control division of the health department to see what may need to be done as far as a possible quarantine goes.

My pet is sick or injured and I can't afford veterinary care:

  • The Buncombe County Sheriff's Office does not have any resources to provide free care for sick or injured animals, however you may contact the Buncombe County Animal Shelter (828-250-6430) to see if they can refer you to someone that may be able to help.
  • If your animal is sick, injured, or ailing from conditions of old age, and is suffering, you may take it to the Buncombe County Animal Shelter (828-250-6430) for euthanasia. The shelter does charge a small fee for euthanasia, however if you are unable to afford to pay for that service at the time, they will discuss making arrangements with you to avoid letting your pet suffer.
  • If you do not have transportation to take your animal to the shelter for euthanasia (under the conditions outlined above), you may contact the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office (828-250-6670) to request a pickup and transport. Owners are generally charged a $40.00 pickup fee for surrendering their own animals, however here again, we will make the necessary arrangements to see that your animal does not suffer unnecessarily should you be unable to pay.

My neighbors have (a) dog(s) that barks a great deal and disturbs our household:

  • We always recommend to people that they try to talk to their neighbors to let them know that their dogs are bothering them and to work out a solution, before they call the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office (828-250-6670) to intervene.
  • If the complaint comes in after animal services hours, a patrol officer will usually be sent out to investigate upon receiving a complaint about a barking dog. The responding patrol officer will attempt to locate the barking dog(s) and make contact with the owner(s). If the officer locates the problem but is unable to resolve it on that visit, they may ask for an animal services officer to follow up.
  • If the call comes in during animal services hours or if the call has been referred to animal services for a follow up, an animal services officer will respond to assess the situation. If there is an obvious problem with barking while the responding animal services officer is at or near the residence, that officer may issue a warning or citation to the owner for a violation of the barking dog ordinance.
  • More often than not, the barking problem will not be apparent to the responding officer and it will be necessary for the complainant to complete what is called a "bark packet". The bark packet process is required by the district attorney's office before a barking dog complaint/violation can be prosecuted.
    • Step 1 is where the complainant fills out a 1 page log that documents when & how often the dog(s) bark.
    • Step 2, which the complainant can start at the same time that he/she starts filling out the log, consists of contacting the Mediation Center (828-251-6089). The mediation center will attempt to get both parties to the table to work out a mutually-agreeable, long-term solution. If the dog owner fails to cooperate with mediation, the process automatically advances to the 3rd and final stage of the process. If the complainant fails to cooperate with mediation, then the complaint process stops at this point and will not be pursued further.
    • Step 3 proceeds if the mediation process failed to bring about a resolution to the problem. The health department will mail a letter to the complainant that they take with them to the magistrate's office to file a barking dog ordinance violation charge against the dog owner. Once the magistrate has issued the charge, the owner will be served and set up with a court date. The first court date is called the "first appearance", and the complainant will not need to attend on that date. The complainant will be subpoenaed for subsequent court dates so that they may appear to testify to the facts surrounding their case.
  • None of the steps above are guaranteed to bring about immediate relief from a barking dog problem and the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office is not authorized to remove barking dogs without a court order of some sort. Complainants do have the option of retaining an attorney and seeking an order from the court to remedy their problem more directly.

I have a problem with dogs/cats/livestock that frequently trespass on my property

  • Again, we always recommend that people with complaints about pets or livestock belonging to their neighbors, contact their neighbors first to try to work out an amicable resolution before they call the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office (828-250-6670) to intervene.
  • Buncombe County Sheriff's Animal Services does not issue citations for owned cats simply being at large. In order for Animal Services to take further action, there must be solid proof establishing that an owned cat is committing property damage and/or running frequently at large.
  • When a complaint about animals at large comes in during normal business hours, we make every effort to get an officer out to address that complaint the same day. Unless the animal presents an immediate danger to the public at large, the call may be held over until the following day, however.
  • As a rule of thumb, officers will start out by warning dog or livestock owners; letting them know that there has/have been (a) complaint(s), and what the consequences are if there are further, sustained complaints of leash law or livestock violations.
  • At the same time, officers ask that complainants attempt to photograph the animal(s) if they see them running at large on subsequent occasions. Complainants may send these pictures to an animal control officer which the officer may use to issue citations or take other actions.

Wildlife issues:

  • The Buncombe County Sheriff's Office does not provide services for wildlife problems with the following exceptions:
    • To dispatch sick or injured wildlife.
    • To investigate and intervene, if necessary, in cases of wildlife acting aggressively toward people.
    • To remove potentially dangerous wildlife from inside a residence when the location of the animal is known. (Animal Services officers will not tear out walls, floors, heating/cooling ducts, move refrigerators or pianos, or dig through mountains of clutter to locate animals).
  • People with infestation problems (such as mice, rats, snakes, insects, bats, squirrels, etc) or nuisance wildlife outdoors (such as raccoons, opossums, skunks, coyotes, wild/feral pigs, bears, etc) will need to contact an exterminator or private wildlife mitigation service provider to help with their problem.
  • If you should experience problems with bears and/or raccoons frequently coming to your property and tearing up items you should remove all food sources such as pet food, bird feeders, and garbage (wait until the morning just before collection before placing garbage outside by the curb).