Out-of-control canines causing crisis in Georgiana

Published 7:24 pm Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pets attacked and mauled, sometimes to death. Litter strewn across front yards. Things are out of control.

Council members and concerned citizens alike expressed a desire to put more bite into Georgiana’s animal control ordinance at the July council meeting.

Council member Lisa Lowe noted the laws in place require animals to either be leashed or in control on the owners’ properties.

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“But, we are doing absolutely nothing, it seems, in terms of animal control,” Lowe said.

“I know of a case where a man’s dog was mauled by other dogs. I realize we have no pound, no city shelter for sick or dangerous animals, and that endangers the health and welfare of our citizens.”

The chief problem, said Lowe, is dogs running loose in the town’s streets without collars and tags and with no one admitting ownership of the animals.

“It’s not like we can go to their owners and ask them to take care of the problem,” she said. “Can our police officers possibly take some of their downtime to catch a dog or two, and ease the situation a little bit?”

Mayor Mike Middleton said the town was now in possession of a tranquilizing gun on loan from Greenville, but also pointed out the darts could take as long as 30 minutes to take full effect.

“In the meanwhile, you could have this dog crawling up under someone’s house, and by law we can’t go and get it without permission – it would be trespassing,” Middleton said.

The mayor said some cities are now using Taser guns as a quick and non-lethal method of controlling stray animals.

“There would be no waiting for it to take effect, so that is something we may want to consider,” Middleton said.

“I think we need to address our animal control policies and make them more aggressive,” Lowe said.

She asked if stray animals are behaving in a malicious way on a person’s property, if they have the legal right to shoot the offending animals and was told by police officers present the property owner could potentially be charged with discharging a weapon within city limits.

“Do you mean if an animal is mauling my friendly dog in my yard, I don’t have the right to do something?” Lowe queried.

Middleton said while a charge could be made if such an incident took place, it wouldn’t necessarily happen.

“We need to look at the laws and find out exactly what we can and cannot do and look at changing the policies,” he said.

The council unanimously agreed to look into amending the ordinance during an upcoming special meeting and taking it to a vote at the August meeting.