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South Forsyth shelter approved to let dogs out during day
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SOUTH FORSYTH -- A recent commission decision should mean some happy dogs in south Forsyth.

Forsyth County commissioners unanimously approved a request from Furkids Inc. to amend zoning conditions on the non-profit’s local shelter on Union Hill Road, which, among other things, will allow the dogs at the rescue to be taken outside during business hours.

“Yes, dogs bark, but dogs [won’t] bark and [they won’t be] as stressed out when they have the opportunity to get outside and get some exercise and fresh air,” said Forsyth County resident Nancy Van Patten during public comments. “I think that’s what Furkids is working toward.”

With the approval, conditions will be: space is limited to 65 dogs; trainers can take two dogs each outside for up to eight dogs; staff will receive training; windows will remain closed; and no animals will be allowed on the Gates property, an adjacent business park.

Proposed building conditions were to plant evergreens on the property boundary, place a vinyl sheet near the boundary and address septic issues.
The property is zoned industrial, and a conditional use permit was approved in 2005 for another dog rescue. Furkids took over in 2013.

The attorney for the business park said at a previous meeting his client had occasional issues with the prior tenant.

At a previous meeting, zoning attorney Ethan Underwood said Furkids, which has 12 other locations, is the largest no-kill shelter in the Southeast and has adopted out more than 3,000 animals in recent years.

The only condition not approved was for language to be added for the permit to transfer with the building if Furkids leave.

“I think it’s quite a lot cleaner just to allow that [permit] to expire when there’s a transfer of ownership and allow the new organization to come on its own merits, present its own case and obtain for themselves the [permit] that they need,” District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson said.

Underwood said there are no plans for Furkids to close, but if they do the property will revert to its industrial zoning with no conditions.

Commissioners discussed looking at such permit scenarios across the county, and District 2 Commissioner Rick Swope said he hopes to continue to work on the condition.

“This deals with a contingency out on the horizon that none of us are anticipating at this point in time,” he said, “thinking that this gives us time to come to something that all parties can agree to.”