Commission discusses tethering ordinance

Published 6:51 pm Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Troup County Board of Commissioners discussed a possible tethering ordinance during its regular meeting on Tuesday that would aim to make animal cruelty cases easier for local marshals to investigate.

The proposed ordinance had not yet been drafted as of the Tuesday meeting, but one of the main concerns that has been discussed previously is the ease of establishing a reason to check on dogs who are tethered to one point to ensure the animal’s welfare. According to the Troup County Marshal’s Office, tethering is the third most common dog-related reason for calls to the office.

“The most common cause that we had was for dogs roaming, which steadily goes up every year, which I think in 2015 was 71, in 2016 went up to 95 and in 2017 not counting October, November, December is already 156,” said Chief Marshal Lonza Edmondson from the Troup County Marshal’s Office. “The next after that was rabies (checks). We get plenty of calls about dogs with people complaining about the dogs roaming with no tags and no collars, and of course we check for rabies.”

Edmondson clarified that not all of those dogs have rabies, but dogs in the county are required to have rabies shots. Tethering concerns are generally grouped with humane care concerns, and the Troup County Marshal’s Office dealt with 52 concerns on tethering and humane care concerns this year up to October. Currently the fine for improperly tethering a dog in the county is $287.50. Improper tethering is defined as tethering a dog with something too heavy, like a logging chain, or too short. The fine for allowing a dog to roam is $225 per dog.

The primary concern that the county has heard against the proposed ordinance is in cases where the dog owner needs to temporarily tether a dog while the owner is outside, so that concern will likely be taken into account in the writing of the ordinance.

“The staff has discussed this and if you are inclined to do a tethering ordinance, we would suggest that we go with the City of LaGrange’s, and maybe you would take out the (section) A about the square footage of the pens, and that you would add another statement in there that said ‘if the owner is present, tethering is allowed,’” County Manager Tod Tentler said. “So, if you go out to grill, you can have your dog tethered or if you go out to rake the yard and go out to have some sunshine with the dog, those kind of opportunities. That is what we would recommend if you are inclined to put in an ordinance.”

Commissioner Lewis Cadenhead said that he agreed with the idea of basing the first draft of the ordinance on LaGrange’s tethering ordinance, which has reported some success over the almost two years since it was passed.

LaGrange, West Point and Hogansville all have tethering ordinances, so if an ordinance is passed, it would likely only impact residents in the unincorporated portion of the county.

During previous meetings on tethering in the county, the board of commissioners heard reports from the LaGrange Police Department on the city’s tethering ordinance, local animal rights activists and other representatives from the Troup County Marshal’s Office.

“We have had a lot of discussion about it, and we’ve heard from a lot of people concerning this matter, and so I do know on behalf of the commissioners, they’ve all had a lot of thought and conversation about this,” County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews said. “Emotions run very high on both sides about this, and we’ve had a lot of discussion since we tend to deal with the unincorporated areas, that we have some different constituents throughout the county. I do feel like from my standpoint, it is important for the county to make sure we have similar rules (to the cities) that we can make it easier for our law enforcement and citizens to understand what we want to achieve.”

The Troup County Board of Commissioners plans to hold a public hearing on a possible tethering ordinance on Nov. 21 at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Ave.