BAINBRIDGE, GA (WALB) - County officials say it was high time for stricter laws regarding animals when they began working on their ordinance several months ago. Then, this summer, they got proof they were moving in the right direction. "We've had a couple of children bit by dogs," said County Administrator Tom Patton. Eight-year-old Shelby Yates was attacked by a pit-bull mix and had to have 18 stitches. Her grandfather had to shoot the dog to get him off of her.
"We're concerned with someone getting hurt, and then us dealing with it afterwards because a child can be scarred for life and can also be fatally injured," said Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin. That's why now the county, instead of going by the state "one-bite rule" put in a section on "vicious or dangerous dogs."
"If we get a dog that's threatening to somebody, they report it to us. We'll send our animal control officer out and they'll do a thorough investigation," said Patton. If the dog is ruled to be vicious, "The dog will have to be in a secure enclosure that children can't get into, it will have signage identifying it as a dangerous dog," Patton said.
The new animal control officer is a huge relief to the sheriff's office. "Its definitely going to relieve our deputies to do other duties, because we have plenty of other duties to do," Griffin said.
The new ordinance also outlines a leash law. "If they're on the public byways, sidewalks and streets of Decatur County they have to be under control of an owner by leash, collar," explained Patton.
For people with outdoor dogs, they'll have to invest in an enclosure, because dogs will no longer be allowed to be tethered. Patton said, "We don't think its very humane to keep them tethered outside 24/7 and we want to move away from people's ability to raise fighting dogs." Officials say some parts of the ordinance may be controversial, but their fighting for the safety of people and pets alike.
The first draft of the animal ordinance was presented to commissioners this week. Decatur countians are free to offer their input. They'll vote on it in about a month.