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Ordinance Protects Against Attacking Dogs but May Need Clarification

On Dec. 18, 2012, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners adopted the State of Georgia’s Responsible Dog Law into a local Ordinance so that it could be locally enforced. The County is now requesting

On Dec. 18, 2012, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners adopted the State of Georgia’s Responsible Dog Law into a local Ordinance so that it could be locally enforced. Douglas County Animal Control Director Rick Smith is proposing clarifications to the local Ordinance to remove vague and inconsistent language, according to a Douglas County press release.

The proposed changes to the Ordinance will first go to the County’s Animal Control Advisory Board (ACAB), which is a group of citizens who review regulatory and other activities of the Animal Control Department and make recommendations to the Douglas County Board of Commissioners (BOC). After the proposed Ordinance additions have been thoroughly vetted by the ACAB, it will make its recommendation on them to the BOC. All revisions to the Douglas County Code of Ordinances require that a public hearing be held during consideration and before adoption into law.

The intent of the proposed revisions is to protect citizens and domestic animals from dogs that their owners fail to control - more specifically, loose dogs that attack, or attempt to attack, citizens or domesticated animals.

The State Law contains the following language: aggressive attacks in a manner that causes a person to reasonably believe that the dog posed an imminent threat of serious injury to such person or another person although no such injury occurs” and “however, that the acts of barking, growling, or showing of teeth by a dog shall not be sufficient to classify a dog as dangerous under this subparagraph.”

Animal Control desires the language to be clearer, according to the release, so that so that barking, growling, or showing of teeth” is not enough to classify a dog as dangerous. This type of behavior in secured fenced yards may be normal behavior for the dog. Some breeds are very protective of their turf.

A dog that is routinely kept secured and has no prior history of running loose or threatening citizens or other domesticated animals but breaks loose and puts a person in imminent fear will not be declared a dangerous dog under a revision proposed by Director Smith. The dog’s owner would be placed on notice to correct the problem. If the situation re-occurs, then the dog faces the possibility of being declared dangerous.

“Barking, growling, or showing of teeth” with additional threatening behavior by a dog who is not under his owner’s control and not on his owner’s property could result in a dog being classified as dangerous.

The dangerous dog declaration is made by the Animal Control Director only as a last resort. The declaration may be appealed by the dog’s owner to the Animal Control Advisory Board. The ACAB may uphold, overrule, or modify the determination. The pet owner may appeal the ACAB decision to the Superior Court.

A dangerous dog declaration does not automatically mean that the dog will be put down. The dog’s owner must comply with the provisions of keeping a dangerous dog which ensure that the dog will be kept in such a manner as to prevent it from providing additional threats to other people or other animals. It is the responsibility of the pet owner to ensure that the dog is properly housed and cared for, and that the public is protected from the dog’s actions.

Dog owners are responsible for their pet’s actions on private or public property.  Dogs do not normally understand boundaries. When allowed to run free, they become protective of surrounding properties, streets and sidewalks and therefore expand their protected turf. Unfortunately, it is not their turf to protect. Dog owners who allow their dogs to run loose can be cited to Court for leash law violations. Most vicious dog cases are repeat offenders of the leash law.

No breeds are singled out or identified in the proposed legislation.

It is anticipated that the review of the proposed changes will occur during Winter 2013 and will come through the ACAB to the BOC in the Spring.

Cyd February 02, 2013 at 01:07 PM
Exactly, if the ACAB does not want to examin the evidence of an animal control officers determination of declaring an owners dog "dangerous" prior to a Judicial appeal who will? The GA law says that an owner has a right to appeal the Animal Control officers desision to an Animal Control Advisory board or Health Department (keep in mind this is just taking a look at how the Animal Control Officer determined the dog to be dangerous). In Douglas County we have an Animal Control Adivisory Board. So currently as the law is when a dog is determined by an Officer to be dangerous then the first stop on the appeal process is the ACAB and as you pointed out in your comment above they do not want the responsability.
Cyd February 02, 2013 at 01:30 PM
Absolutely, do not take your "friends" word for it ! That is how false information gets around! Read it and make your own conclusions. Remember, these are proposed changes. The law reads:" it is the intention of this chapter to establish a state law MINIMUM STANDARDS for the control and regulation of dogs and to establish state crimes for the violations of such minimum standards, However this chapeter shall not prohibit local governments from enforcing ordanances or resolutions which provide for a more restrictive control and regulations of dogs than the MINIMUM STANDARDS provided for in this chapter. " In my oppinion there is nothing wrong with wanting to fit this minimum standard law to our community. Thank you Rick for your proposal if nothing else it has made our community more aware of the laws on Responsable Dog Ownership!
Lisa Levesque February 02, 2013 at 02:13 PM
Cyd...In reference to your response above, the fact that the ACAB does not want to accept responsibility for review does not justify making the authority the shelter director. Indeed, he made this change before issue was even discussed with the ACAB! The shelter director is responsible for the animal control officers making the initial determination. When their decision is challenged, it goes before the one they report to? I am glad this is no longer part of the amendments, and the county will need to address who will hear such cases. Who said anything about friends? I suggested people request & review information, but not take the summary presented in this article.
Cyd February 02, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Lisa I said do not take your friends word for it. We all know the game where someone tells a person and that person tells someone els and what comes out at the end is nothing like the actual information. Therefore everyone should read the proposal for themselves!
Cyd February 02, 2013 at 04:20 PM
In reference to your reference, Rick made a proposal to do what he felt would be a benefit to the community and animals. If you were at the last meeting many acab members made some good points and the proposal is a work in progress now in the hands of the ACAB. Your comments about Rick have a tone that suggests its personal with you as opposed to focusing on the actual proposal. Rick made a suggestion if you have concerns talk to your acab representative so they can address it.
Tammy Rakestraw Pyrdum February 02, 2013 at 05:57 PM
I think that it is clear that neither Mr. Smith nor the ACAB can make or change laws. The question I think many people are asking is why is their a need for the current state law to be revised or amended? Especially since it was only signed into law By Gov Deal May 2012, and adopted by Douglas County Board of Commissioners Dec 18, 2012. The adoption of the state law to be part of the Douglas County ordiance has not even been tried and tested. So why is there a "rush" to make the county ordinance more restrictive. Many are asking why? And at whose directions? Is it the Board of Commissioner requesting this revision or is it Mr. Smith's opinion that it needs to be revised ..and if so why?
Lisa Levesque February 02, 2013 at 09:25 PM
Cyd, I recently communicated to Commission Chairman Tom Worthan that Rick Smith should be given a chance, but it is a 2-way street and he needs to give concerned citizens a chance too. Further, I gave Rick Smith credit for changing his position on two shelter dogs that were wrongfully being labeled as dangerous. However, since then he has made little effort to reach out to concerned citizens to build trust and relationships, and I also communicated that to the Chairman. This is important to me because I care about the people in this community who have given their blood, sweat, tears, time, and treasure to aid the innocent animals in this kill shelter. With all due respect, when you reference the ACAB, I am aware of how to communicate with my elected officials and their representatives, but I appreciate your input. Thank you!
Cyd February 02, 2013 at 10:11 PM
I'm sorry that you feel the way you do. Since Rick has been the Director he has had to focus on many administrative areas at the shelter and many other issues in his short time here in GA. There is a volunteer group now working with the DCAC called HOPE (Helping Orphan Pets Everywhere) in Douglas County. Volunteer applications have been updated and an orientation program for new volunteers. I personally believe we all want to help the shelter animals and we can all work together. It may take a little longer for everything to come together, but it can happen.
Cyd February 02, 2013 at 10:30 PM
On the other questions about why the changes to the law and why is it Rick that's proposing them. During the special Acab meeting those same questions were asked and discussed and from what I could hear ( it was hard to hear everything being said at the meeting) many of those questions were answered. Again I know it is difficult to trust a person you don't know. I believe we all care about the animals and if we give Rick some more time it will be evident that he does care. It's a proposal one made with good intentions, it's ok if the citizens don't agree. If it is discussed and decided nothing should be done then that is the way it will be. I trust the acab to handle the proposal carefully.
Sadye Claxton February 03, 2013 at 12:54 AM
Where is Rick Smith, and why is he not defending HIMSELF? Why is there a new volunteer program being instituted and new volunteer applications when a core group of volunteers have worked at this shelter for years busting their butts and bringing down euthanasia rates at a remarkable pace? Why come in and turn it upside down and push everyone out who has put their blood sweat and tears into this shelter and these animals? Its obvious Rick Smith is not willing to work with any of these amazing individuals who have been pushing and working to make this a progressive shelter,.
Lisa Levesque February 03, 2013 at 11:17 AM
Cyd or do you prefer Cynthia, in the interest of full disclosure, I think it is appropriate to disclose your relationship to Rick Smith. Since you have not, I understand it is Mrs. Rick Smith. I think it is important for anyone reading this thread to know this. Thank you!
Cyd February 03, 2013 at 02:49 PM
I have been working as a volunteer at the shelter and we have a volunteer sign in sheet. Not many people are actually volunteering at the shelter. There are many volunteers applications that have been submitted and not enough staff to respond. This new volunteer group is trying to update current volunteers to see who is still active and respond to new applications that have been submitted. That is just a couple reasons why.
Cyd February 03, 2013 at 03:12 PM
I have not hidden my relationship to Rick. I just prefer to use internet safety pre-cautions. You have met me, I have disclosed to you who I am. I came out to meet you at the shelter you were not there that day. I tried to say hi to Carl and introduce myself that didnt work out either. I am Mrs Rick Smith and I am proud to be so! I I actually was trying to reach out to this "Core Group" of volunteers all post that I have made on this site are public. Making positive changes at the shelter is going to take a community effort. As you all know in the shelter evaluation that Susan Feingold completed she stated, "The issues at the shelter have been long standing" even before she began the evaluation. The long standing issues did not happen overnight and the issues wont be fixed overnight. Rick and I are very aware of all the work the core group of volunteers have done, we both have said so numerous times. It is my hope that we all work together for the common good of the shelter animals. The volunteer program was in desperate need of some consistant organization.
Cyd February 03, 2013 at 03:15 PM
Rick and I are very aware of the work the "Core group" of volunteers have done. We both have acknowledge and thanked them many times. In fact I have acknowledge the volunteers in previous post on this site.
Lisa Levesque February 03, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Yes, I am aware of who you are because I introduced myself to you after the last ACAB meeting. As for not making your acquaintance at the shelter, I explained to you that I was sick. Other than that, I work full time and it is common knowledge that I walk dogs, socialize animals in Puppy Room, and mentor potentional adopters while volunteering my time on Sunday. Perhaps we can chat this afternoon when I am there?
Carl Pyrdum Jr. February 03, 2013 at 03:38 PM
Cyd (Mrs. Smith) I am glad to see that your Identity has been revealed, so that everyone is aware and apprised of your specific interest in Douglas County Animal Control, the shelter and its new animal services director. For the record, we have met and we have been formally introduced. Your husband introduced us shortly after his arrival, one day when you accompanied him to the shelter last November. Since that time, I have been at the shelter on a number of occasions weekly when you have been present. Most recently last Thursday afternoon when I specifically asked to be signed in on the new volunteer sign in book and you were present at the desk while Mr. Pope located the book and signed me in. That would have been an ideal time to engage me in conversation I would think. Before that, last Tuesday I was at the shelter for almost four hours, along with two other volunteers, taking photos and walking dogs as I do three times a week. Again you never made any attempt to "reach out" to me or engage me in conversation on any issue concerning volunteering or otherwise. During neither of these occasions have you made any attempt to engage me in conversation on any level. However, I will be at the shelter this afternoon and I will make a point of re-introducing myself to you.
Carl Pyrdum Jr. February 03, 2013 at 03:38 PM
As it concerns the core group of volunteers that you reference, I would certainly hope to see you reaching out to those volunteers in your new capacity as volunteer and rescue coordinator. You might also find it interesting to know that not everyone who volunteers their time, efforts and money on behalf of Douglas county shelter animals, comes to the facility directly. Many hours are spent by others networking these animals on social media and with rescues and other organizations around the nation. In addition, many sponsors across the state and the nation have contributed their money to the sponsorship of Douglas County shelter animals. I look forward to seeing you this afternoon.
Patty Sampson February 03, 2013 at 04:15 PM
I guess Cynd and Rick may be figuring out they are not in "Kansas" (Missouri) anymore. The metro-Atlanta rescue/animal welfare community is not one to be taken lightly.
Joanie Wilson February 07, 2013 at 12:34 AM
Why is this Rick Smith even in charge,I have been in there many times with my daughter to take newspapers and snacks for the animals,the times I have seen him hes never got up out of his chair not a smile,can I help you or anything.Wow,do we really want this Douglasville,when we had Tracy and Mike who actually loved animals.If we dont stand up against this situation we are all guilty..Concerned Citizen Who Actually Loves Animals
Tammy Rakestraw Pyrdum February 07, 2013 at 04:46 AM
You all have a very strange way of "reaching out " to the core group of volunteers. Not allowing them to walk dogs unless they become part of your non- profit group, HOPE. Telling them they are no longer welcome at the shelter. Telling rescues groups they are no longer welcome at Douglas County Animal Control. And withholding the weekly "In Danger" list until an open records request was filed by several volunteers requesting the information. Maybe you can explain how that is for the "common good of the animals". If this is really about the animals and their welfare, if so why would you deny those who have worked so hard access to the animals? People in the rescue and advocate community are never going to agree 100% with the shelter staff. But working together is a two way street , and the impression that has been given to this point is the you all have no intention of exploring that option.
Lisa February 25, 2013 at 10:45 AM
I am from Rabun county. HOPE and Douglas county will be in the news in a very bad way, I predict. I've watched this before, where a nonprofit set up, no care for animals, and a dictatorship with secrecy. If you recall Rabun county was news around the world. IRS and GBI still bringing charges. Not many hard laws around the animals, but there is around the money. WATCH THE MONEY!!!! THAT IS WHERE THE IRS AND GBI AND FEDS WILL GET INVOLVED. Nonprofits have rules governing them. Next election get rid of the people who do not respect what you have to say.
esther sue February 27, 2013 at 12:48 AM
County ordinance cannot supercede state law HOWEVER, I just got word today that the infamous AKC affiliated dog breeder lobbyist is attempting to get HB 409 passed.... which intends to remove mandatory spay and neuter for shelter animals. As well HB 409 intends to strip ALL animal contros of their authority. GOOGLE GEORGIA HB 409 and read it for yourselves.
esther sue February 27, 2013 at 12:51 AM
The true humane animal community best wake up and boot these dog breeder friendly no kill front groups OUT of their shelters and animal controls. They are attempting a coup nationwide, folks.
esther sue February 27, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Google the no kill main spokesman's name along with the word petpac and/or the acronym NAIA. You will see that their main leader spoke at a petpac conference along with NAIA's director. t was in 2008.These no kill front groups are duping the true humane animal advocates.
esther sue February 27, 2013 at 01:04 AM
I AM BETTING SMITH IS A TRUE HUMANE AC DIRECTOR THEREFORE THE NO KILLERS WILL TRY To get him outta there so they can better move their breeder agenda in. These no kill agendists have a very, very breeder friendly agenda. It's not just Douglas County ... it is nationwide.
Carl Pyrdum Jr. February 27, 2013 at 01:56 AM
HB 409 can be found at this link http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20132014/131470.pdf No county, municipality, or local authority shall, except to the extent authorized by state 13 or federal law, adopt any ordinance, resolution, or local law: 14 (1) Requiring the spaying or neutering of any animal; 15 (2) Requiring a higher license, registration, or ownership fee or tax for animals which 16 are not spayed or neutered; 17 (3) Preventing the ownership, breeding, transfer, sale, purchase, tethering, training, or 18 transportation of dogs used for the lawful pursuit of game, field trials, shows, or disability 19 services; or 20 (4) Banning the sale or ownership of any specific breed of domestic dog or cat." For those unable to ascertain the intent of meaning of the proposed law, see the following.
Carl Pyrdum Jr. February 27, 2013 at 01:58 AM
At the State Dept of Agriculture site. http://agr.georgia.gov/animal-control.aspx Under Sterilization Act § 4-14-3. Procedure for sterilization; exception; costs (a) Any public or private animal shelter, animal control agency operated by a political subdivision of this state, humane society, or public or private animal refuge shall make provisions for the sterilization of all dogs or cats acquired from such shelter, agency, society, or refuge by: (1) Providing sterilization by a licensed veterinarian before relinquishing custody of the animal; or (2) Entering into a written agreement with the person acquiring such animal guaranteeing that sterilization will be performed by a licensed veterinarian within 30 days after acquisition of such animal in the case of an adult animal or within 30 days of the sexual maturity of the animal in the case of an immature animal; provided, however, that the requirements of this Code section shall not apply to any privately owned animal which any such shelter, agency, society, or refuge may have in its possession for any reason if the owner of such animal claims or presents evidence that such animal is the property of such person.
Carl Pyrdum Jr. February 27, 2013 at 02:11 AM
Which simply means. Section 4-14-3 clearly defines the mandate that all shelter animals be spayed or neutered prior to adoption, or that a contract of no more than 30 days be signed and allowed of adopters to provide for spay neutering after adoption from a shelter. HB 409 does not change 4-14-3. What HB 409 does do, is prevent local governments from over stepping their authority to intrude upon individual property rights of people and their existing animals. Specifically, it seeks to prevent local ordinances requiring individual pet owners from being required to spay or neuter their existing animals. It also prevents any requirement of spay or neuter or to require individuals to be forced to spay neuter their animal if is is picked up by animal control as part of any sanction of leash law violation. As it concerns true humane shelter directors. None that I am familiar with are supportive of HSUS as a shield organization for PETA and their animal activist agenda. What is presently at issue in this county concerning animal control, has absolutely nothing to do with breeders. It has to do with animal welfare and the true humane treatment of animals.
esther sue February 27, 2013 at 07:23 AM
Oh poo poo ..... don't try to shovel your no kill garbage down my throat - i am well aware of who and what are behind this breeder backed and supported NK agenda. And the good thing is that more and more TRUE animal advocates are realizing it as well. So please save the propaganda for the many FB pages out there where you can control the opposition.
Carl Pyrdum Jr. February 27, 2013 at 01:23 PM
Oh poo poo? You're right on that point, you are not going to allow anyone to dispute your prejudice with the truth. As there is obviously no need in comparing your propagandized HSUS/PETA spiel to the actual Ga. laws in discussion. We certainly shouldn't allow others to see those laws and read them for themselves. Right? NK agenda? I am more than happy to allow the public to look at the facts and the law and make their own determination as to who has an agenda and who plays fast and loose with the truth. Good day Madam......

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