Commission hears complaint on ordinance

Published 8:10 pm Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Troup County Board of Commissioners heard from a citizen that claimed the animal roaming ordinance can be misinterpreted and asked that it be revisited.

Under the current ordinance, it is unlawful for any animal owner to fail to keep their animal from running “at large or under restraint” — meaning outside of a fence, not on a trolley system or off a leash. However, the ordinance leaves some room for interpretation on what counts as running at large.

The citizen, Judith Osterhout, has faced fines for her pets getting out of a fenced-in yard or slipping out the front door on accident, and she said that she would like the owner’s intent to be considered in the ordinance.

She also requested that the ordinance require the accuser to be present when the citation is answered before the court. She requested that penalties be put into place for those who make false accusations.

“To me, a roaming dog means somebody doesn’t care about their animal, and they just turn them loose, see if they get in the flowers,” Osterhout said. “That is not the case. Except in these exceptions [where the dogs accidentally got out].”

Osterhout claimed that a neighbor has used the technicality to call animal control to report her dog and pig out in her yard, even though she was with them.

She said that she believed that an animal does not have to be on a leash to be under the owner’s control if it is well trained. According to information submitted to the commission, she owns several rescue dogs, a service dog and a mini pig.

The commission asked that county staff review the ordinance, but it did not make a ruling on Thursday.

“We always have to sprinkle the law with a little wisdom and common sense,” County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews said.

“If [the county staff] could look at it and get back to us at a later date, I would appreciate it.”

Several commissioners agreed that common sense should be used when applying any ordinance and pointed out a section of the ordinance referring to hunting dogs.

“When you do [raccoon] hunting at night with your dogs, you let your dogs run, and that was a big issue about 30 years ago back then [when the ordinance was created], letting your dogs run,” Commissioner Richard English said.

It was unclear on Thursday when the issue would come back before the commission.

The Troup County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.