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Forsyth residents debate dog chain law
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CUMMING — A proposal to change Forsyth County’s animal control ordinance drew praise and scorn from residents Thursday night.

Dozens of residents, some clad in red to support the measure, attended the first of two public hearings on the plan that would make illegal the tethering or chaining of dogs for more than three hours.

The proposed ordinance also addresses matters such as adequate food, water, shelter and space for animals.

Gainesville passed a similar law in 2007.

The Forsyth County commission took no action on the matter, though a decision could come at the next public hearing on June 1.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the amendment would be a "significant modification from the existing ordinance, which allows leashing, or chaining, as a means of keeping an animal from being at large."

Resident Jack Gleason said the proposed ordinance would restrict dog owners.

"I want to know why commissioners want to take the leash off the dog and put it on me," Gleason said.

Lance White said the new tethering rules would help "protect animals that cannot protect themselves."

Former Commissioner David Richard said the ordinance, if passed, would be a financial burden.

"If you live in a subdivision with standard covenants, now you can’t have your dog on a runner," Richard said. "The architectural control committee won’t approve a pen ... you now have to spend thousands of dollars on a fence for your outdoor dog, who by the way, loves being outdoors.

"You have forced residents to build a fence for their outdoor dogs."

Jill Franklin, executive director of the Humane Society of Forsyth County, said the organization has set aside $4,000 to help dog owners offset the cost of such materials.

Those claiming hardship could receive a voucher for items to meet the code.

Enforcement would be complaint-based. If passed, there would be a six-month period before it could be enforced.

This isn’t the first time the county has looked at the issue. Commissioners postponed the matter in October 2007.

Fulton County adopted a similar anti-tethering ordinance March 4, joining Cobb, Cherokee and DeKalb counties, as well as Gainesville, with similar measures.