|Update: Commissioners approve animal control ordinance|
|Written by Mike Sprayberry|
|Thursday, 10 February 2011|
The Oconee County Board of Commissioners approved a new animal control ordinance at its February 8 meeting.
The new ordinance, according to Chairman Melvin Davis, was needed as an update to the previous ordinance that was passed more than 20 years ago. Among other changes, the new ordinance extends the time an animal may be kept at the Animal Control Shelter from 72 hours (under the old ordinance) to a full three business days, hopefully allowing owners more time to find and claim their pets.
“I think the purpose is to update our ordinance that was first developed in 1989 and has not had a revision since that time,” said Davis. “It would update it to current conditions and also provides the opportunity to protect people and animals from some animals that are not under control. It does really update the dangerous and vicious dog controls and covers a wide variety of issues including abandonment, injured animals, cruelty, and some adoption issues that needed to be updated.
“Sometimes there are unusual circumstances. For example, you might have a dog picked up by animal control that has lost its collar. We want to put into place protections for that animal and that owner that may be trying to find that animal for a period of time so that the owner can get it back before it is adopted or euthanized. That is the last resort that we want to go to at our Animal Control Shelter.”
The ordinance also addresses how animals may be tethered (they are not to be tethered within 10 feet of a public road) and sets up the procedure for classifying animals as public threats according to state law (owners have an opportunity to appeal the designation to the Animal Control Board). Davis also explained that Oconee County still does not have a “leash law” under the new ordinance.
“Dogs don’t have to be on a leash at all times. The animal must be under control at all times. They must be secured within the property limits of the owner’s property, on a leash or under response to voice control.”
Davis said no specific incidents sparked the revision of the county’s animal control ordinance, but that the Animal Control Board felt it needed to be updated after not being revised in over twenty years.
“Judging from what those individuals said (at the January 25 meeting where two citizens spoke in favor of the ordinance), I think it is very well-timed.”
Davis went on to praise the Oconee County Animal Shelter and its efforts to avoid euthanizing animals.
“Our group does a great job of getting our animals adopted. They have a great relationship with other shelters and agencies that may come pick up animals that have been at our shelter for a period of time and continue to adopt those animals out.”
The Animal Control Board was instrumental in developing the new ordinance and Davis indicated that he thinks the finished product is appropriate for Oconee County.
“The county has very rural areas and very urbanized areas. I think we got a good cross-section of practical regulation that can be applied in a county like Oconee. If a person is properly looking after their animal, there’s nothing different in here than what they would expect.”
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