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Residents rankled on dog tying
Decision delayed til July
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Forsyth County News
The Forsyth County commission’s decision Monday to delay proposed changes to the local animal control ordinance upset those on both sides of the divisive issue.

Supporters and opponents packed Monday night’s public hearing on whether to forbid tethering, or chaining, of dogs for more than three hours.

Residents sported color-coordinated T-shirts to help express their views on the issue, which would also address matters such as adequate food, water, shelter and space for animals.

Gabriele Pollmeier said it’s not the ordinance that needs changing, but the method by which it is overseen.

“The county needs to better enforce the existing [animal cruelty] laws,” Pollmeier said. “Leave the ordinance alone and enforce the damn thing.”

Bill Mulrooney said changing the ordinance would lessen the possibility of dog attacks.

“Chained dogs are particularly dangerous to children,” Mulrooney said. “[Children] are attracted to chained dogs without understanding the danger they present.”

Dave Christensen countered, saying additions to the ordinance “won’t prevent additional cases of abuse or cruelty, because people who abuse or neglect their animals are already breaking the existing law.”

“The law already clearly defines abuse or cruelty,” said Christensen, adding that new laws create additional expenses for dog owners.

“If they are currently tethering their dog, they will have to install a fence ... to keep the dog on their property,” he said. “It is unfair to make a family pay that kind of money to keep their pet.”

Given what’s at stake, Steve Greenfield said, it’s a small price to pay.

“How many more children will be injured before we take steps to insure this won’t happen?” Greenfield asked. “If you don’t pass this, will you wake up one day, open the Forsyth County News and see a child has been hurt or killed, thinking to yourself, ‘How could I have prevented that?’”

Pollmeier said, however, that it all comes down to the negligence of the dog owner.

“Responsibility cannot be legislated,” she said. “Responsible owners already care for their animals, and irresponsible ones are not going to follow the law, no matter how many new ones or amendments we enact.”

Following the public hearing, the commission voted to postpone the matter until its first meeting in July. The motion passed 4-1
with Chairman Charles Laughinghouse opposed.

“I’m extremely disappointed in the actions of this board,” Laughinghouse said. “This is the second time this ordinance has been, in a sense, shoved under the table. I hoped the board would have the courage to go forward, but I guess I was mistaken.”

The board first postponed the matter in October 2007.

Commissioner Patrick Bell took exception to Laughinghouse’s comments.

“Without wanting to appear rude or anything, this board’s getting quite a history for shoving things under the table ... like the rec centers,” Bell said.

A decision to table plans for two recreation centers in south Forsyth divided the board in a meeting May 21 after some commissioners cited economic concerns.

E-mail Frank Reddy at