FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The public will have two more chances to speak out on proposed changes to the county’s animal control ordinance.
The public meetings are at 10 a.m., Jan. 12 and a final public hearing at 5 p.m., Feb. 1. Both meetings will be at the Forsyth County Administration Building at 110 East Main St.
At the second public hearing Jan. 4, the board reviewed the changes with County Attorney Ken Jarrard who said it sets up a new permitting system.
One provision allows businesses associated with animals 90 days to meet any new requirements, such as conducting background checks on employees, including minors with a parent’s consent and seasonal and part-time workers.
Volunteers would not be required to undergo background checks.
The county will also consider creating a registry of all animal abuse offenders.
More potential changes to the ordinance include setting specific time frames for tethering an animal, requiring an adult to be present with a tethered animal and what type of tether is allowed.
The existing ordinance already addresses animal cruelty, Jarrard said, but there were requests for more specific rules.
During the Jan. 4 public hearing, some residents complained the ordinance should extend to veterinarians who provide boarding facilities. Others said the regulations would be too harsh for the industry which is providing a “good service,” and should not suffer from a “knee jerk” reaction to the recent case where a dog died while being groomed.
Others focused on a portion of the proposed ordinance that outlaws tethers placed around a dog’s neck. They said neck tethers are often the only way they can restrain dogs safely while grooming.
Christi Grubb, manager at PawSpa Resort, said their main concern is the exclusion of veterinarians under the animal handler law.
“As the manager, I supervise my employees much more closely than I was supervised when I worked as a kennel handler at a veterinarian’s office,” Grubb said. “I don’t feel it’s fair to exclude their employees from this law as well.”
She also said if future employees have to wait to get their permits and background checks, then it will hurt the businesses and cause delay in payments.
The changes come in response to the October 2017 arrest of Michelle Louise Root, 41, of Gainesville, who owns Paw’sh Paws pet salon off Lake Center Parkway.
Root was initially arrested for cruelty to animals after she allegedly killed a Portuguese water dog wheaten terrier mix, Meko, 3, she had been grooming at her store.
A second felony aggravated cruelty to animals charge was later filed against her after police learned of another in which a dog had to be euthanized in March 2016 after being in Root’s care.
To view the entire ordinance, visit http://bit.ly/2EndsXk.