Rules about restraining animals in Hall County may be re-evaluated later this year, and ahead of that effort, the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia is seeking opinions from residents.
The Humane Society will hold focus groups and send a survey to ask Hall residents about the county’s animal restraint ordinance. Those interested in participating can provide their information to the Humane Society.
The county’s current ordinance prohibits the owner of a “potentially dangerous animal” to allow the animal outside a proper enclosure, unless the animal is on a chain or leash and is under the restraint of a responsible person. The leash should not be longer than six feet and should be strong enough to prevent the animal from escaping, according to the ordinance.
The county’s animal ordinance also requires people to supply animals with adequate food, water and exercise. Animals can be tethered or chained outside as long as they have access to food, water and shelter and the tether cannot become tangled, according to the ordinance.
The Humane Society will gather input throughout the summer, and the feedback it receives will be used by officials at the Hall County Animal Shelter to provide recommendations to the Hall County Board of Commissioners in the late summer or early fall.
The Humane Society’s executive director Julie Edwards said the goal is to provide a balanced perspective on the issue so commissioners can consider all viewpoints when re-evaluating the ordinance. She said some people can be concerned about the well-being of a dog that is tied up outside.
“I think that some people feel like there’s a heightened level of neglect of those animals because they are outside and left in the elements,” Edwards said. “Sometimes they do have shelter but it’s not considered substantial enough by certain people who feel like it should be more substantial for them.”
Edwards said community members also have said they are worried that tethered dogs are more aggressive, or that a neighbor with tethered dogs would be a nuisance or would lower property values.
People in rural areas may be more accustomed to letting their dogs walk around unrestrained, but on large pieces of land, that would be less of a problem, Edwards said.
“Some people live in the country and have farms, and they’ve always had dogs that run free and they don’t see a problem with it,” Edwards said.
However, she said many people tether their dogs temporarily so they can spend time outdoors, and just because a dog is restrained outside does not mean it is neglected.
“We’re trying to pass an ordinance that will help those animals that are suffering from some level of neglect from being restrained, but we also don’t want to punish those people who do take good care of their animals but maybe put them out on the runner for an hour a day because they need exercise,” Edwards said.