Local government 101: Understanding the City of Asheville + Buncombe County animal codes

Make sure that your furry, scaly, slippery, or buzzing friends are staying up to local code.

Reginald the spotted dog on a trail

Reginald is helping point the way toward code compliance.

Photo by AVLtoday

Class is in session, Asheville. We’re teaching AVL GOV 101, where we break down different aspects of our local government so we can become engaged citizens who create healthier (and more effective) communities.

Today’s installment has gone to the dogs. That’s right — we’re talking animal codes. Whether your friends are furry, scaly, or feathery, there’s likely a City of Asheville or Buncombe County code that you need to know to keep your pets (and the public) safe + comfortable.

Get a license or permit

All dogs residing within the Asheville city limits are required to have a dog license by the age of six months. This $10 license is annual, and the license tag must be worn by your dog at all times. Cats don’t need to have a license or display tags.

If you want to keep bees, livestock, a temporary goat (meaning one to help clear brush that won’t live with you permanently), or seven or more animals in one household, you’ll have to submit a permit application. With the possible exception of bees, obtaining a permit will require an inspection and sometimes interviews with neighbors. You won’t need a permit if you’re going to keep seven or more reptiles, fish, or amphibians.

In the areas outside Buncombe County municipalities, these licenses are not required.

Keep their health in mind

For both the County and the City, all dogs and cats four months or older must be vaccinated for rabies. For the County, dogs and cats must display their rabies tags. The City only requires that dogs display tags; cats still have to be rabies vaccinated and owners should be prepared to show proof, but the tags aren’t required.

All dogs and cats six months or older must either be spayed or neutered, but you can get a $100 unaltered permit to avoid this requirement — they’re available at City Hall or the Buncombe County Animal Shelter.

Follow the rules

Even if your pet meets these requirements, there are some ongoing rules and ordinances to keep in mind.

For County-controlled areas, your pet can be tethered outside, but there are material, length, and obstruction requirements; within the City, no unsupervised tethering is allowed (but your pet can be on a tether if you’re there with them). If a pet leaves your property, it must be on a leash or you could receive a fine. Within the City, you also have to pick up after your dog or risk a fine.

There are also codes to address pets (or owners) that become a public nuisance. Pets that are aggressive toward other animals or people, wander onto other people’s property, or cause damage are prohibited and may get animal control involved. Pets that repeatedly or continually bark, howl, or make loud noises could cost you a fine, too.

If you’re eager to read more rules, you can explore the full animal code here.

So, how was that for a civic lesson? Let us know what other areas of our local government you’d like us to explore next.