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Stricter leash law enforcement likely after dog bites man in Forsyth County park

FORSYTH COUNTY — Officials are considering stricter enforcement of leash laws in Forsyth County parks following a recent incident in which a visitor was bitten by a dog.

Steve Dabbs, a member of the county’s parks and recreation board, summed up the situation Wednesday night during a meeting of the group.

“We have leash laws in the county and we’ve got residents using the park with their dogs not on leashes, and they can’t control [them],” Dabbs. “I think that we’ve got to address stepping up a comprehensive plan to educate park users.”

Dogs are allowed in many — but not all — county parks, though they are required to be on a leash. The rule is stated on signs at park entrances. There are also designated dog parks at Caney Creek Preserve and Fowler and Windermere parks.

“The thing is people who own the dogs know the laws and we built dog parks that allow them the opportunity to go to the park and put the dog inside the fence and let them run,” said Jim Pryor, parks director. “We have some parks that don’t allow dogs, for example Sawnee Mountain.”

According to Pryor, park rangers can ticket those who are breaking leash laws, though they have been less likely to do so as they have been focusing their efforts elsewhere. Pryor added that he would be getting in touch with the sheriff’s office to discuss the possibilities.

Owners of dogs that bites someone could face more than a fine.

“I don’t know if [the man who was bitten] called animal control and reported it, but any kind of bite — dog on person, dog on dog — if you call animal control, they’ll investigate it, quarantine it and most of the time they terminate the animal that bit,” Pryor said.

Also during the meeting, the parks board approved the following:

* A new special event permit for races, walks and festivals in certain county parks. The concept still must be approved by the county commission.

* An additional level of baseball youth baseball for 7-year-olds in the Sharon Springs Athletic Association. The change will allow for a level between recreation league and travel baseball, and will feature four teams that will face only each other.

The remaining teams from the park in that age group will play a normal season. The change was approved for 2016, and will be revisited before next season.