Licensing: no; leash law: yes

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By Jenny Hartley

Karma isn't shy with the kisses – he doles them out wherever he goes.

The probable Labrador retriever, about 2 years old, is staying with Indian Land residents Summer Kingery and Ken Hedges now. Kingery is an active member of the Humane Society of Lancaster County and trained in animal behavior.

Karma was mentioned at County Council's meeting Monday night, when council was discussing second reading of an ordinance to toughen several of the county's animal laws.

Pictures of Karma were passed around to council members, showing how a collar had been embedded in the dog's neck, probably for 18 months, leaving bloody gashes and an infection.

Karma was dropped off at the Lancaster County Animal Shelter on April 8. Because animal control officers couldn't prove the person who dropped him off was his owner, charges for animal abuse couldn't be pressed.

That's why some Humane Society members wanted County Council to pass a countywide registration law. If Karma had been licensed and registered with the county, it could have proven who his owner was, and Animal Control could have brought charges, they said.

Opponents of licensing, however, say that it would cost too much to enforce because extra manpower would be needed at Animal Control.

Ordinance passes, 6-1

The pictures of Karma moved Councilman Larry Honeycutt.

"This picture bothers me," he said. "There's something we need to do about this. This is bad. This is wrong."

"It tugs at your heart strings," Councilman Fred Thomas said. "But you don't want to pass an ordinance because of a picture."

Councilman Wayne Kersey, who serves on the council's animal ordinance committee and is against licensing, said the pictures were brought in to get people "hyped up."

Council Chairman Rudy Carter said he believes the proposed new leash law will solve "99 percent" of the county's problems when it comes to stray dogs.

Without adding any provisions requiring licensing, council passed second reading of the ordinance 6-1, which includes a leash law provision.

Thomas voted against it, but only for procedural reasons – to keep it off the consent agenda when it comes up for final approval. Consent items aren't discussed when they're up for a vote.

Council originally proposed designating all pit bulldogs, American bulldogs and Perro de Presa Canario dogs as dangerous. But pit bull owners came out snarling over the proposal, and council appointed residents to work with the council committee to revise the ordinance.

The revised ordinance does not target specific breeds, but does give county magistrates the authority to deem a dog dangerous. If a dog is deemed dangerous, its owner would be required to take specific measures to ensure that the dog does not attack humans or other animals.

The revised ordinance would also require residents to keep their pets on a leash.

It will take one more reading by council for the ordinance to take effect.

Karma awaits his destiny

Karma was doling out kisses at Curtsinger Animal Clinic in Indian Land on April 9, even though he had a collar embedded in his neck. The collar constricted Karma's neck so badly that his sounds came out as high-pitched squeals. The stench of the infection in Karma's neck was awful.

"It would blow you out of the room," said Dr. Katie Miller at Curtsinger Animal Clinic, who removed the collar from Karma's neck. Karma was neutered on April 9, and while he was anesthetized, Miller removed the collar and cleaned his wounds.

"It wasn't life threatening, but certainly it was absolute neglect," Miller said.

His scars are healing nicely, although they still bleed sometimes. He's learning how to be around people, but that hasn't been difficult for the supremely forgiving dog. He's also putting on weight.

Karma is also learning how to walk on a leash. He seems to be good around children, Kingery said. It's likely that Karma was alone a lot, and he's just now learning how to play with toys and other dogs.

And here's the best thing: Karma will be available for adoption through the Humane Society once his scars heal. Kingery thinks he'll do best in a home where he can be an only dog and offer up all his love to his new family.

"He's a very relaxed, chilled-out dog," Kingery said.

But Miller said a potential owner will have to make sure to get Karma's heartworms treated. She thinks he'll be a great pet for someone.

"He has an excellent temperament," Miller said.

The Humane Society is rescuing dogs and cats from the Lancaster County Animal Shelter, which euthanizes thousands of unwanted pets each year. The Humane Society chooses those with good personalities, so it will be easy to find them homes.

The Humane Society needs more foster homes and donations. For details or if you're interested in adopting Karma, call Brandy Sweisberger at (704) 219-4004. To join the Humane Society, call president Bob Hunter at (803) 283-9155.

For more about the Humane Society of Lancaster County, go to www.savelancasterpets.org

What's a leash law?

The county's proposed leash law says that an "owner/custodian shall keep his (or her) pet under restraint at all times. No pet shall be permitted to be off the land where the owner resides, or on other private property with that property owner's permission, unless on a leash at all times. No person owning or harboring or having the care of the custody of a dangerous animal may permit the animal to go unconfined on his premises."

The ordinance is slated for third and final reading at next Monday's meeting.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or (803) 283-1151