Animal advocate wants change

William R. Toler | Daily Journal Kim Hutchinson holds Rusty, a puppy that had to undergo surgery to remove wire from his tail. Hutchinson is pushing for an amendment to the city’s animal ordinance regarding caging and how long dogs can be tied out.

ROCKINGHAM — Kim Hutchinson is an animal lover.

“I haven’t met an animal that I didn’t just love,” she said, holding a fostered puppy at her home on Thursday, before clarifying, “I’m not a reptile person.”

It was Hutchinson’s passion for pets that led her to approach the Rockingham City Council Tuesday night regarding the animal ordinance.

She told the council she was concerned about dogs in the city being left outdoors chained up for extended periods of time.

“When they are tied up a lot, they are more likely to attack a person than if they’re allowed to run free in a fenced-in yard,” she said. “They’re more social.”

Hutchinson said she had made calls to police but was told as long as the dogs had adequate food, water and shelter, there was nothing they could do.

City Manager Monty Crump told her that the city had adopted a new ordinance within the past two years.

The ordinance she had been going by was pulled off the city’s website.

“Their website is not up-to-date whatsoever,” she said.

At the meeting, Chief Billy Kelly told her to give him the addresses and he would look into those cases.

“I don’t know the addresses, but I can tell him where the places are,” she said.

Hutchinson said there is one home nearby with two large dogs on heavy chains.

“I’ve never seen their tails wag,” she said. “I’ve never seen either one of them look happy.”

She also mentioned a large dog, that she says looks like a pit bull, in a small cage, with a tarp over it.

At the meeting, she compared them to humans being placed in solitary confinement and said they can develop a mental condition called kennelitis.

“They go absolutely stir-crazy,” she said. “They circle, stare at a corner, self-mutilate, dig, claw — anything they can do to get out.”

Even though Crump, Mayor Steve Morris and Councilman Bennett Deane expressed empathy for her concerns, Hutchinson said she felt she was shut down. She plans to return next month and ask for an amendment to the ordinance regarding outside caging and tie-out time limits.

“If you’re that sympathetic to it,” she said, “you need to do something about it.”

Hutchinson has been fostering animals for about a year and a half.

She currently has two puppies — Rusty and Summer — that look like boxer/beagle mixes. They were found, along with a third puppy, a few weeks ago on Gibson Nursery Road in Ellerbe with their tails bound.

“At first I thought it was a twist tie,” she said, but later found out it had been wire. “It was embedded into their tails and scabbed over.”

The wire — along with most of their tails — had to be surgically removed. The third puppy, Shadow, never woke up from the anesthesia.

Hutchinson said that both she and Carol Parker have each offered a $100 reward — for a $200 total — to anyone with information leading to the prosecution of whoever is responsible.

Aside from fostering the two surviving pups, she is also fostering a cat and owns two dogs and and three cats.

She said she could foster the way she does without help from her son Conner and husband Greg because of back and neck issues. Greg also built dog shelters out of barrels and gave them to Richmond County Animal Advocates.

The family is planning to move to a more rural area of the county, where Hutchinson hopes to construct a building to enable her to foster more.

Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler.