Forsyth County Commissioners recently took the first step toward a new ordinance to protect animals in the county.
Commissioners held the first of two required public hearings to amend an ordinance that would add restrictions for tethering dogs, new requirements for the adoptions of animals for the county shelter, more penalties for animal cruelty convictions and establish a permitting system for some of those who work with animals, including pet stores, animal shelters, kennels and others.
County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the change would affect those found guilty of abusing animals.
“A person who is convicted of animal cruelty may not own, possess or have on premises an animal for one year from the date of conviction, but the court … has the discretion to make that penalty longer.”
At the public hearing, speakers offered input they would like to see in the ordinance change. Forsyth County resident and animal caretaker Jamie Andrews said there should be limits on tethering.
“I do think some other safety precautions should be put into place,” he said. “Those should include, I think, regular check-ups on a daily basis, make sure they have access to clean water and not getting tangled up and maybe a four-hour maximum period of time that they could be tethered.”
Others spoke out against the licensing, which includes a background check. The total cost was $25 for the license and $40 for the background check. Employees working for veterinarians will not be required to be licensed.
Commissioners said they received lots of letters and comments in the days before the meeting and wanted to make sure they got things right and have unforeseen consequences.
“If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right. Let’s not do it and regret it,” District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said. “We just don’t want to do something that is prohibitive and will hurt the industry.”
Better ways to protect pets has been discussed throughout the county in recent weeks after a dog died under the care of a Forsyth County groomer.
According to law enforcement records obtained by the Forsyth County News, witnesses told Cumming police officers Paw’sh Paws owner Michelle Root choked, kicked and knocked a dog named Meko to the ground on Oct. 7 during the dog’s grooming session. The dog allegedly died of the injuries.
In the following weeks, commissioners began working on the change to the ordinance, which they called “Meko’s Law.”