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Ignore the leash laws in the Triad's major cities and your pet could be barking up the wrong tree, leaving you out on a limb.

In Greensboro, dogs and cats cannot run at-large on public property; High Point allows cats to roam free, but dogs must be on a leash or must be with an owner whose commands they are trained to obey.In High Point, your dog cannot run loose, even on your own property. In Greensboro, your dog can, but only on private property with the owner's permission.

If the police catch your animal where it's not supposed to be, three things could happen: You could be given a warning, issued a warning ticket, which carries no fine, or issued a citation. In Greensboro, such a ticket carries a $15 fine; in High Point, it includes court costs.

If you've been the source of frequent violations, the animal could be picked up.

If the police pick up an animal and cannot find the owner, or if they seize an animal, they will take it to the Guilford County Animal Shelter.

If you reclaim a dog from the shelter on the same day it arrives, it will cost you $10 cash. For every additional day, add $4.

With cats, owners pay $6 the same day and $2 for every day after.

In Greensboro, if the neighbors get fed up with barking or caterwauling, they can sign a warrant for the public nuisance, which results in a criminal summons. If you're convicted, you could end up liable for court costs. You also could be fined a maximum of $50 or jailed for a maximum of 30 days.

High Point spares cats, accepting complaints only about dogs. If police are called in, they usually issue a warning the first time, with the penalty ranging from $15 to $40 if the noise continues. Dogs must have city tags, which can be purchased at utility offices.

Winston-Salem also restricts dogs, protecting residents not only from their noise and bites, but also from unwanted souvenirs. Dogs must always be kept on a leash when they're away from home, even if the property owner doesn't object. Pets also are not allowed to relieve themselves on another person's property.

Fines for unleashed dogs start at $50 for a first offense and go as high as $100. Owners don't get warning notices.

Dogs found running loose may be taken to the Forsyth County Animal Shelter, where reclaiming them can cost as much as $60, plus a daily board of $3. The exact fee depends on whether the animals have had their rabies shots and have been registered with the county.

Winston-Salem has noise nuisance laws for everything from dogs to chickens. Usually owners get 24 hours notice before a citation is issued. Repeat offenses can lead to court, where the maximum fine is $50 or 30 days imprisonment.

State law requires pets be vaccinated for rabies at 4 months, and every three years thereafter.

Veterinarians give shots; vaccination campaigns offering shots at reduced rates are also conducted throughout Guilford County.

If your pet bites someone, state law says the animal must be confined for 10 days. It's up to the owner to board the dog with a veterinarian.

Certain exceptions may be granted if the animal is younger than 4 months, if she has puppies, or if a member of the owner's family was bitten. The local Health Department must approve the exceptions.

In Greensboro, call the police department at 373-2222 to report animal bites or call 373-2142 for general information. In High Point, 887-7915; in Winston-Salem, 767-6293. An officer will be dispatched. In the meantime, it helps to try to confine the animal or keep an eye on it.

Animal shelters The Guilford County animal shelter is at 4525 W. Wendover Ave., a few blocks past Interstate 40. Stray and runaway animals whose owners are not identified go to the shelter.

Animals must be claimed within five working days. If they are not, they can be put up for adoption or put to sleep.

Animals that are voluntarily surrendered by the owners also face the same two options.

About 75 percent - an average of 27 animals a day - are destroyed.

A lucky 7 percent to 9 percent of the animals are adopted. The fee is $55 for female dogs, $40 for male dogs, $45 for female cats and $30 for male cats.

Prices include the costs of spaying and neutering the animal, a mandatory procedure veterinarians will perform if you present a shelter receipt. If you don't have an adult animal spayed or neutered within 30 days of adoption, the shelter will repossess it. Puppies or kittens must be spayed or neutered within six months of adoption.

Sick animals may be returned for a refund or exchange if they are taken to a veterinarian for an exam within five working days of purchase.

Any Guilford County vet will give a free basic exam to a shelter-adopted pet within five working days of adoption. There will be a charge for lab work and shots.

If you take on responsibility for treating an animal's illness and wait longer than five working days after the exam to decide that you want to return the pet, you can't get a refund.

For information, call the shelter at 373-7561.

The Forsyth County Animal Shelter is at 1200 Fairchild Drive, next to Smith-Reynolds Airport. Animals left at the shelter and strays are kept five days, then either euthanized or put up for adoption for three to six days. Unadoptable animals left by their owners are immediately put to sleep.

No animals are used for research.

The fee for adopting dogs or puppies is $78, including a county tag and rabies vaccination. Cats and kittens can be adopted for $55.

As in Guilford County, prices include fees for spaying and neutering - mandatory procedures that must be performed by a veterinarian within six months of adoption for all animals. Present the receipt and the shelter will reimburse the veterinarian.

Sick animals may be returned within four days for a replacement, which must be chosen within 60 days.

Any Forsyth County veterinarian will give a free basic exam to a shelter-adopted pet within four working days of adoption. There will be a charge for lab work and additional treatments.

Owners who go to veterinarians outside Forsyth County cannot return the animal to the shelter.

To register dogs in Forsyth County after Feb. 15, buy a tag at the shelter, then declare the animal on your next tax notice. You will be billed $5 automatically and sent the tags in August. To register a dog between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15, simply declare it on your property tax and get a free tag from the shelter to use until the new tag arrives.

Humane Society The Guilford County Humane Society is at 4527 W. Wendover Ave. in Greensboro, adjacent to the county animal shelter. The mailing address is P.O. Box 18105, Greensboro, N.C. 29419.

The Forsyth County Humane Society is at 61 Miller St. The mailing address is P.O. Box 15605, Winston-Salem, N.C. 27113.

For information, call 299-3060 in Greensboro, 885-4922 in High Point, and 721-1303 in Winston-Salem.

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