FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — It’s a dog-eat-dog world for Furkids, the local animal shelter that is trying to amend its zoning conditions.
The update would allow the shelter to house more animals and expanded hours for dog walking.
The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners decided March 2 to hold off a decision until March 16, so the board could tour the facility and learn more about the shelter.
Currently, the shelter is allowed to house 40 dogs, but it wants to bump up that number to 90.
The shelter is also seeking to delete the zoning condition that states the dogs are not allowed to leave the building from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays.
Operation of the kennel requires allowing animals outdoors during business hours, which isn’t happening now, the applicant’s attorney Ethan Underwood said in the rezoning application. He said the rescue is trying to allow the dogs the ability to play and use the facilities outside.
“The animals will not be allowed to roam freely outdoors,” he said. “As such, the proposed zoning condition amendment will not create a safety hazard of noxious condition.”
Furkids also wants to delete conditions that limit to five the number of dogs allowed outside at one time prior to 9:30 a.m. It also wants to be allowed to post signs on the property indicating the site is a dog rescue and Humane Society.
Opponents of the changes said there isn’t enough room at the current location for the increase in dogs. It’s hard, they argue, to do business next to an animal shelter, and they point out the original zoning was for 10 dogs.
Attorney Christopher Light represents the board members of the Gates at McGinnis Ferry Office Park which is located near Furkids. He requested a postponement so those businesses could express their concerns.
“I can’t say enough good things about Furkids,” Light said. “We think they can do a good job and work with us. We didn’t care what they do with their property. We just don’t want to hear, smell or see the dogs. Unfortunately, over the years, things have come up and there have been problems in those respects.”
But a large group of Furkids clients, employees and volunteers came to the meeting to show their support.
Nancy Van Patten said that aside from helping animals get homes, many types of groups come to the shelter to volunteer, including church and school groups that children important lessons on patience, cooperation and compassion. Her husband, Fred, said a few years ago he had an office temporarily in the complex below the shelter.
“We were there in the winter and summer and were in and out all day,” Van Patten said. “We never knew they were there. There was no smell or barking. It’s a peaceful area. The volunteers are passionate about what they do and it’s a great cause.”
Others listed facts including the shelter adopted out 3,200 cats and dogs and rescued 2,800 cats and dogs in 2016, many from kill shelters and hoarding situations.
Furkids kennel technician Ashley Wright said she spends every day caring for the dogs but sees firsthand how the cramped conditions impact the animals.
“When we have potential adopters who come in, these dogs have so much built up energy that we don’t see the true potential of the dogs,” Wright said. “We ask adopters to not put the dogs in crates longer than eight hours a day. But the dogs in our shelter are crated longer than that. It’s hypocritical, animal cruelty and not fair to the dogs.”