October 25, 2012
Something amazing happened at the Thursday, Oct. 18 Guilford County Board of Commissioners meeting: The county held a public hearing on a change in the law regarding vicious dogs and no one showed up to speak on the issue.
In the modern era of Guilford County government, as a general rule, any motion related to dogs or other pets and animals, no matter how insubstantial, has generated a great deal of debate – and has almost without fail brought a lot of emotional people with views on both sides down to the commissioners meeting room on the second floor of the Old Guilford County Court House. However, despite that, not a single person came to speak on either side of the issue at the Oct. 18 public hearing.
At the meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to revise the county's laws pertaining to "Dangerous or Vicious Animals." The new regulations allow for quicker euthanization of vicious animals in cases where there's an "aggressive, severe attack." The changes lift some other restrictions on dealing with those animals deemed to be vicious, put more obligations on the animals' owners, and allow more flexibility in how the animal is caged by the county.
Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne explained the changes. He said the revisions would make it easier for animal control officials to euthanize some dangerous animals and, he added, the revisions also remove some restrictions on the required enclosures in which the animals are held while a panel determines the animal's fate.
A memo to the commissioners from Payne and Guilford County Animal Control Manager Scott Greene states, "Presently, the enclosure required is very specific and expensive and may not be warranted for all animals deemed dangerous or vicious."
The vote by the Board of Commissioners also added the following sentence to the law: "If an animal control officer or law enforcement officer seizes an animal, and no attempt is made by the owner(s) to recover or appeal the seizure, the animal will be deemed abandoned after six (6) working days and all owners' rights shall be forfeited to Guilford County."
This change is expected to aid animal control officials when there's difficulty in finding the owner. The new law also requires that owners immediately notify animal control officials in writing if he or she changes addresses.
No one spoke for or against the changes, but Payne gave a brief explanation why it was desirable for the county to loosen its restrictions on the process of taking custody of vicious animals, holding them and euthanizing them.
Payne said the current law was too restrictive.
"The way it's written just doesn't give us all the options appropriate for the circumstances," Payne told the commissioners.
Payne said the revisions would allow greater flexibility for those who deal with dangerous animals after an attack, and he said the Guilford County Animal Advisory Committee had voted in favor of the changes, which now required approval by the Board of Commissioners before becoming law.
The commissioners didn't discuss the matter before voting 9 to 0 to approve the changes.
There was a bittersweet moment at the board's Oct. 18 meeting. The commissioners passed a resolution honoring the life of the late Bob Shaw – the former county commissioner and state senator, and the late husband of Commissioner Linda Shaw. Bob Shaw, who was 87, died on Saturday, April 7 after a lengthy illness that began last year.
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston read the resolution that honored Bob Shaw as Linda Shaw listened.
Bob Shaw was born in 1924 in Erwin, North Carolina, and he served in the US Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1946 before becoming the owner and operator of the Friendly Road Inn seafood restaurant in Greensboro. That local landmark was perhaps better known as "the Fish House," and Shaw ran the business for 56 years until closing it in 2006. The restaurant later burned down as the result of arson.
Bob Shaw served on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners from 1969 to 1976 and, during that time, he was chairman and vice chairman of the board. In 1984, he was elected to the NC Senate, where he served nine terms for a total of 18 years. He had a very distinguished political career in the state legislature. He served on numerous committees and rose to become the NC Senate minority leader.
After listing Shaw's many accomplishments, Alston read, "Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners that it hereby expresses its appreciation and admiration for the life of Robert G. 'Bob' Shaw, and extends its sincere condolences to his family and friends."
An emotional Linda Shaw spoke lovingly of her husband and thanked her fellow commissioners for honoring him.
"We may fuss and fight on this board," Shaw said, "but when it comes right down to it, we're family. I love all of you."
She also spoke briefly about her husband.
"He loved his children and he adored his grandson," she said.
Shaw added that her husband always got a great deal of enjoyment from conversing with the patrons who frequented the Friendly Road Inn.
"He loved the customers," she said.
Commissioner Kay Cashion announced that the conference room connected to the Board of Commissioners' meeting room – the conference room the board uses for closed sessions – was to be named the Bob Shaw Conference Room.
In addition, two ceiling fans that for decades were in use at the Friendly Road Inn have been installed in the conference room. The fans were originally ceiling fans at the former O. Henry Hotel in downtown Greensboro before it was torn down. Linda and Bob Shaw donated the fans to the county when the Friendly Road Inn closed and, earlier this year, the fans were installed in the first floor hallway of the Old Court House. Now the fans are in the conference room.
The Board of Commissioners, at the Oct. 18 meeting, also passed a resolution honoring former Guilford County Emergency Services Director Charlie Porter, a very well-known figure in the world of emergency services in Guilford County.
In 1970, Porter went to work for the Guilford County Fire Marshal's Office and, in 1980, he was selected as the first director of emergency services in Guilford County.
Porter was largely responsible for creating one of the first county fire prevention codes in the state, and he oversaw an expansion and improvement of the county's 911 call system and also established a highly respected county paramedic training program, which made Guilford County one of the best counties to have a heart attack in or get shot in.
Shaw, who read the resolution honoring Porter, commented, "Guilford County is a better and safer place because of Charlie Porter."
Current Emergency Services Director Alan Perdue also had some kind words for his predecessor and mentor.
"I was an 18-year-old when I got here – so he was like a second dad to me," Perdue said.
At the Oct. 18 meeting, the commissioners heard from NC Department of Transportation Division Engineer Mike Mills who reported on just over $3 million in planned road improvements for Guilford County in the coming year. That total includes $747,000 to pave rural county roads and $2.3 million in general road improvements....continued on page 2