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On Thursday, December 7, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to hold a public hearing and possibly vote on a proposed ordinance that seeks to require “animal handler permits” for employees of grooming, training, boarding, and other broadly-defined “animal care facilities.” The proposed ordinance also seeks to increase penalties for animal cruelty and neglect violations, and would further restrict humane tethering of dogs.

Animal owners and pet professionals in Forsyth County are urged to immediately contact their county commissioners to express concerns. Please scroll down for contact information. 

Provisions of concern with the proposed ordinance include, but are not limited to:

The ordinance would require employees of animal care facilities to obtain an animal handler permit prior to beginning work. The permit applicant would be required to pay fees of $25 for each of several background searches and reports, provide a complete set of fingerprints, and comply with other requirements. Reapplication would be required every 24 months. Employees working in an agricultural, zoological, scientific field, or a licensed veterinarian or an employee working for a licensed veterinarian, would be exempted from permitting requirements.

“Animal care facility” would be defined as “any establishment where the primary business involves the care, treatment, or sale of animals, which shall include, but is not limited to, pet shops, animal shelters, kennels, animal boarding facilities, animal grooming facilities, or animal training facilities” (emphasis added). 

It should be noted that in another section of existing county law, “kennel” is defined as “any facility used for the purpose of boarding, breeding, or sale of animals (excluding horses, swine, goats, and geese) or pets and any other customarily incidental treatment of animals such as grooming, cleaning, selling of pet supplies, or otherwise.”  It is unclear if the inclusion of “kennels” under the animal care facility definition would include employees of any facility where dogs are groomed, bred or sold. It is also unclear if an individual or a family member who assists an individual who breeds a litter or sells a dog would be considered an employee, and thereby subject to permitting requirements. 

The ordinance would also require that a person convicted of animal cruelty shall be prohibited from owning or having an animal on the premises for one year from the date of conviction. The court would be allowed no discretion in determining sentencing based on the circumstances of the case. This lack of court discretion could result in certain cases being dismissed, or else the imposition of excessive penalties, in cases with mitigating circumstances or minor correctable violations, such as a spilled water container. 

The ordinance would further restrict tethering by making it a violation to tether a dog when the dog is out of the line of sight of the owner or adult custodian. Dogs tethered under requirements of a park or recreational area would be exempted. 

Animal owners and pet professionals are urged to contact their county commissioners in advance of the meeting and also to attend the public hearing. 

Meeting Information:

Forsyth County Board of Commissioners
December 7, 2017
5:00 p.m.
Forsyth County Administration Building
110 East Main Street, Suite 220
Cumming, GA 30040

If you wish to speak at the public hearing, prior to speaking each speaker must sign up by completing a Public Hearing form. Forms are available outside the meeting room at 4:30 p.m. when the doors open. The form should be completed and returned to the clerk. Each side – those in opposition and those in support – are allotted a total of ten (10) minutes to speak. Each speaker is limited to three (3) minutes. Extension of the three (3) minutes per speaker or the ten (10) minutes allotted per side may be granted, but only by a majority vote of the board.

Board of Commissioners Contact Information:

R.J. (Pete) Amos – District 1

Dennis T. Brown – District 2 

Todd Levent – District 3

Cindy Jones Mills – District 4

Laura Semanson – District 5

For more information, please contact AKC Government Relations at 919-816-3720 or