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Public sounds off on new animal ordinance
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At a meeting of Forsyth County Commissioners on Thursday, the public had the opportunity to sound off on potential changes to the Forsyth County Animal Control Ordinance. 

In recent months, commissioners have discussed changes to the ordinance after the death of a dog named Meko, who died while being groomed at Paw’sh Paws in Cumming in October.

At Thursday’s meeting, County Attorney Ken Jarrard went over some of the changes before opening the discussion to the public.  

“This sets up a new permitting system that the county has never had before with respect to animal care facilities,” Jarrard said. 

Some other changes are proposed alterations to tethering, limiting the weight and type of tethers and requiring an owner to be present, prohibiting those convicted of animal cruelty of owning an animal for a year after their conviction, which courts could make longer, and requiring those who adopt animals to sign paperwork stating they have not been convicted of animal cruelty.

Several of the evening’s speakers were in the grooming industry and felt that good businesses were being targeted for the actions of a bad one.

“Obviously, the point of this ordinance is how do we protect animals without obstructing anyone’s ability to do business,” said Chairman Todd Levent. 

The permit, which requires a background check, was also brought up several times, with speakers saying the length of time to go through the process could impact new hires. Several of the speakers were against a part of the ordinance exempting those working for veterinarians or in zoology. 

“Keeping the veterinarian clinics exempt from this animal handler act — that’s upsetting to me,” said Rebecca Wagner, owner of Paw Perfect Pet Salon. “I’ve worked in vet clinics. I’ve seen more of what you might call … rough handling techniques used at vet clinics than I’ve ever seen at a salon.”

She later elaborated that she was referring to vet clinics in other areas than Forsyth County.

Other speakers just wanted to be part of the process, and District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said they should be included as businesses for similar ordinances were.

Levent said the evening was a good example of why the county holds public hearings.

“Now you see why we have these public hearings,” he said. “So we can live and learn together and come up with ideas for the better.” 

The county will host a meeting at 10 a.m. on Jan. 12 to get more input. Those wanting to participate should contact the county.

 Another public hearing will be held on Feb. 1, where commissioners can adopt the new rules.