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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.

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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