By Richard Banton
Opponents of the Oconee County tethering ordinance have voiced their frustration that it is cruel and ineffective, citing the death of four dogs this year. During last week’s Oconee Animal Control Advisory meeting, board members met some resistance from both the Animal Control Department and citizens after insisting the ordinance is fine as is.
The current policy allows a dog owner to attach one animal to a tethering device for 24 hours so long as one ensures the cable is at least 10 feet away from another object and that it’s not tight enough to strangle. Animal Control Director Caitlyn Vickers said that she thinks a tethering ban or at least a modified policy would be more appropriate.
However, a tethering violation is not the only violation that negligent pet owners can face in Oconee county.
Here’s information you should know broken down by topic:
Vaccinations and Rabies
- A licensed veterinarian must vaccinate all dogs, cats, and ferrets three months or older against rabies. Once vaccinated, dogs must wear a collar and a vaccination tag at all times. Any dog, cat or ferret that has bitten a person must be quarantined for 10 days for rabies observation.
- Animals have the legal right to humane treatment. It is illegal to deprive an animal of food or water or subject it to torture or abuse.
- It’s illegal to knowingly abandon an animal. Animal Control may impound any animal running at large, causing a nuisance, or that does not have a collar and tag.
Animal Control Procedure
All complaints must be submitted through the county’s webpage. After review, an animal control officer is sent to the violator’s house to verify the nature of the complaint and inform him or her of the county’s animal control laws. If the violator is not home, the officer will submit a request for compliance with contact information from the department.
“If we have to come back, a citation could be issued,” Vickers said.
Citations carry fines and may require a Magistrate Court appearance. If a violator chooses to go to court, a fine could be lowered or not assessed, according to Vickers who said she tries to understand the circumstances of each case.
When asked if court appearances were common, she pointed to a trunk in the corner of her office. The recent adoption of a state law that requires owners to classify vicious dogs has caused a slight increase in case load, but court cases are not rare by any means.
The Oconee County Animal Control Board’s next meeting will be Feb. 10. It is up to the Oconee County Commission to vote on a change to the tethering ordinance.
For more information on Oconee County’s animal control laws, click here.