Forsyth County Commission Chair Todd Levent and Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills will hold a meeting with stakeholders on Friday, January 12 at 10:00 a.m. regarding proposed amendments to the county animal control ordinance. Click here for meeting information and a link to the revised proposed ordinance. Seating at the meeting is limited.
The proposed amendments seek to require “animal handler permits” for employees of animal shelters and grooming, training, boarding, and other broadly-defined “animal care facilities.” The proposal also seeks to increase penalties for animal cruelty and neglect violations, and would strictly limit the humane tethering of dogs.
Animal owners and pet professionals in Forsyth County are urged to attend the meeting on Friday to discuss the proposed amendments. Concerned citizens are also encouraged to contact their county commissioners to respectfully express their 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. “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).
The permit applicant would be required to pay fees of $25 plus $40 for background searches and reports, provide a complete set of fingerprints, be present for photographing, and comply with other requirements. Reapplication and additional fees would be due every 24 months. The permit holder would be required to present the permit upon demand by a county official. 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.
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 a home-based hobby breeder would be considered an employee, and thereby subject to permitting requirements.
The ordinance would 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 not “in the physical presence of and attended by the owner or adult custodian.” Dogs tethered under requirements of a park or recreational area would be exempted.
Stakeholder’s Meeting Information:
January 12, 2018
Large Conference Room of the Administration Office
Forsyth County Administration Building
110 East Main Street, Suite 210
Cumming, GA 30040
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.