County to get tough with bad dogs
By: BRENNAN LEATHERS
Decatur County commissioners are set to take a tough stand on dangerous dogs if provisions in a proposed animal control ordinance are passed.
At county commissioners' Tuesday meeting, County Administrator Tom Patton presented draft copies of an animal control ordinance. While some of the draft is similar to existing Georgia laws pertaining to dogs and animal control, Patton said he believed the proposed local ordinance would be even stricter.
The proposed ordinance would set up procedures enabling the county's animal control officer to investigate dog complaints and determine whether a dog was dangerous or potentially dangerous, even if it had not attacked a human before. Owners of dogs deemed dangerous would have to keep it in secure enclosures and obtain a surety bond to cover damages in the event the dog attacked humans or livestock.
Dogs would also be required to be kept on their owners' properties, unless they were being held on a leash.
The proposed rules would also require dogs and cats to be vaccinated, licensed and wear a tag registering their ownership. The registration tag would be issued for a fee of $10 collected by local veterinarians, which would be waived if the animal was spayed or neutered.
Hunting dogs would be allowed to roam free during hunting seasons, but would still have to wear tags and could be subject to impoundment if the animal control officer found them roaming on a county road.
A proposed provision Patton said he personally supported strongly is one prohibiting dogs or cats from being tethered-by chain or otherwise-to a stationary or moving object, except on a temporary basis. Patton said research has indicated owners of dogs trained to fight use tethering to make them have a meaner disposition.
After the meeting, Patton told The Post-Searchlight he believed dogfighting is a problem in Decatur County. He said The Humane Society of the United States offers a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in dogfighting or cockfighting.
County officials had been looking at animal control during development of a broader nuisance ordinance first proposed in May. However, representatives of the agricultural community had voiced concerns about the first draft of that ordinance, leading its authors to separate problem animals from other nuisances in response to citizen complaints about attacks by free-roaming dogs.
Among other topics addressed by the draft ordinance, which Patton said is based on ordinances adopted by other county governments, animals that cause a noise nuisance, removal of animal excrement, limitation on the number of cats that can be kept outdoors on a property, and proper animal confinement.
Patton said he welcomed citizens to provide input on the proposed rules by telephoning him at 248-3030 or e-mailing him at tomlpatton@....
"We take this stuff seriously, we want a good comprehensive ordinance," Patton said. "There will also be a penalty section. If people don't want to comply with the ordinance, it will hit them in the pocketbook."
Brennan Leathers can be reached by e-mail at brennan.leathers@..., or by telephone at (229) 246-2827, Ext. 115.
« Download The Animal Control Ordinance Document ( 3.5MB PDF)
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