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Forsyth County is considering changes to help deal with dangerous, off-leash animals
FCN Forsyth County Administration Building

Forsyth County Commissioners could soon have new rules to deal with those who mistreat animals in the community.

At a recent regular meeting, commissioners discussed a proposal to update the county's animal ordinance to give code enforcement and members of the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office more tools for dealing with animal violations.

“There have been some issues with respect to how either our code enforcement or sheriff's office are responding to different types of animal control calls, and what I have found with conversations with [County Attorney Ken Jarrard and Code Compliance Director Steve Zaring] is it seems to be that there is a combination of some policy changes that we may need to make internally with respect to how calls are being responded to and what actions are taken,” Chairwoman Laura Semanson said.

Semanson said her district, District 5, had been plagued by an owner who “has consistently, over time, had dogs that are loose and are aggressive.”

“We've had those issues before in other areas as well, but in this particular case, we've now had a couple of code enforcement calls and sheriff's calls where families have been chased down the road, where a next-door neighbor was basically treed on top of her vehicle when she was in her yard because she had to get away from them and there has been very little recourse,” she said.

She said updating the ordnance would be a way to deal with off-leash animals and said those who do enforcement “shouldn't have to wait until somebody is killed.”

Zaring said among the changes would be updating definitions for suitable food and water, shelter, changing the policy for animals in hot vehicles, give the ability for charging animal hoarders and would set policies for horses and other equines previously under the purview of the state's Department of Agriculture.

No action was taken at the meeting, and a draft of the ordinance will be brought to a future work session.