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Waynesville aldermen throw dogs a bone

Although Waynesville aldermen continue to seek a definitive answer on whether or not to rescind the town’s 15 year-old policy of banning pets from festivals, they’ve embraced a temporary measure that may help point them in the right direction.

Back on Aug. 22, the board considered ending the ban; with aldermen apparently split on the issue — Jon Feichter cited overwhelming public support for the ban, and LeRoy Roberson expressed concerns about animal waste — Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown directed town staff to research best practices in neighboring municipalities and report back.

At the end of the town’s Sept. 26 meeting, however, Feichter and Brown told the rest of the board that they’d independently arrived at the same conclusion even though discussion of the ban wasn’t on the meeting agenda.

What they proposed was a 90-day moratorium on enforcing the ban; Feichter made a motion to do so, Alderman Julia Boyd Freeman seconded it, and it passed unanimously.

“I don’t want to end run the process — that’s not my intention,” Brown said in proffering the measure.

Instead, Feichter opined, it would be a good “test case” from which to gather data and gauge public reaction.

The motion authorizes Waynesville Town Manager Rob Hites to direct town employees not to enforce the ban from Oct. 1 through New Year’s Day; that window of time allows for pets to attend the Church Street Art and Crafts Show Oct. 14, the Apple Harvest Festival Oct. 21, and the Waynesville Christmas parade Dec. 4 as well as the Art After Dark and Street Dance events.

Aldermen first began to reconsider the ban as a way to accommodate tourists or day-trippers visiting the area with pets; once they’re here, there’s not much in the way of accommodations for pets while their owners attend festivals where pets aren’t allowed.

Doggy day-care had been considered in the past; it didn’t work, but remains an option.

Conversely, people have expressed concerns about tripping over leashes, dogs biting each other or other people, animal waste, soaring pavement temperatures and elevated sound levels.

All Waynesville aldermen commenting on the ordinance — including the mayor — confessed to being either dog lovers or dog owners; in tabling the Aug. 22 measure, Brown said he was hoping to present an ordinance that would receive unanimous approval.

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