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Dog tethering ban lacks official support

POSTED: October 24, 2013 12:19 a.m.

The city of Oakwood is the latest local government that is considering a no-tethering law, but Hall County government officials are reluctant to consider a similar measure, some residents say.

Oakwood City Council members tabled a final vote Monday on an ordinance that would bar pet owners from tethering animals in their yards.

The proposed regulation also defines and regulates what is a dangerous dog and what is a vicious dog. The council tabled the second reading over some concern that invisible fences or electric shock perimeters wouldn’t prevent the dog from leaving the property.

It’s an issue that residents brought to council members, who also voiced concern about dogs chained in yards becoming aggressive and showing threatening behavior, said Oakwood Mayor Lamar Scroggs.

“Some people here have four or five (dogs) tied up in their backyard and there’s a lot of barking dogs,” the mayor said. “You’ve got pit bull dogs and then you’ve got kids walking to catch the school bus.”

Gainesville resident Harriette Taylor formed a committee recently to meet with the Hall County Board of Commissioners to urge it to pass a no-tethering law.

Taylor said the group hasn’t had much success in convincing commissioners to see their side.

The other group members included David Arias, executive director of the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia; Humane Society board member Robin Smith; and Rick Aiken, former executive director of the Humane Society.

Taylor said several of the commissioners oppose the proposed ordinance or have refused to meet with them.

“(Commissioners) Craig Lutz and Jeff Stowe are adamant that they don’t want to pass this,” Taylor said. “(Commissioners) Billy Powell and Scott Gibbs would not meet with us.”

Calls to Gibbs, Powell and Stowe were not returned.

The committee believes tethering a dog outside makes it aggressive and it can attack people with whom it comes into contact, including children. Many dog bite cases in Georgia were from chained dogs, she said.

Gainesville passed its tethering ban in 2007, thanks in part to the efforts of Taylor and Aiken. The ordinance they’re proposing for the county is based on that law.

It would require dog owners to humanely contain their dogs in a house, fenced area or enclosure from which the dog can’t escape.

It would bar dogs from being restrained by a rope, chain, cord or another tether unless it is being held by a person able to control the dog.

Board Chairman Richard Mecum said he would put the group on an agenda, but needs to hear back from it as to a date.

“I told her that she could put it on the agenda if she wants to request it,” he said. “I don’t have a problem (with it).”

Lutz said he offered the committee the chance to do a public service announcement on TV18.

TV18 is a local government channel equally controlled and operated by the city of Gainesville and the county.

“I don’t have exclusive control over the agenda,” Lutz said. “They’re welcome to come to a work session anytime they want to and sign up for public comment, just like anybody else in this county.”

Lutz is against the proposed ordinance, saying it doesn’t make sense for the whole county.

“This is a very diverse county, we have urban areas, we have suburban areas, we have rural areas, we have agricultural areas,” he said. “The ordinance that they were proposing, while I’m in full agreement should be in the urban and suburban areas, I cannot agree they should be in the rural and agricultural areas. We design our laws to cover everybody equally.”

Oakwood is scheduled to consider the issue again at a future meeting.

Scroggs said the city has received some complaints involving tethered dogs trying to attack someone, although he declined to be more specific.

“You know, you can take an animal and you can make anything you want to out of it,” Scroggs said. “You can make a real baby out of a pit bull dog if you want to, if you treat it like it ought to be treated.

“But if you tie it up on a long chain and put it out(side) and throw it a little bit of food every two or three days and scream and holler and mistreat it, it’s going to bite you.”


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