Thursday, April 16, 2009
Gwinnett AAC Meeting - April 21st - Dog Barking & Tethering Ordinance
The Gwinnett Animal Advisory Council will be meeting April 21st (Tuesday) at 7:00 PM to discuss proposed changes in the county animal ordinance that addresses tethering and nuisance "dog barking". The meeting will be held at the Gwinnett Animal Shelter located at 884 Winder Hwy in Lawrenceville. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.
The agenda is available at the following link:
A group of concerned pet owners (We the Pet Owners of Gwinnett) offer the following revisions for discussion. Both changes would be enforced as "civil" violations rather then the current practice of being handled as criminal violations. The purpose of the revised law would be to seek compliance through a system of warnings and escalating fines while removing all sentencing provisions which include jail/probation and court ordered loss of pets.
We propose the following:
Changes in restraint/tethering language:
Section 10-29 (b-4) Effective it will be unlawful to tether (chain) your pet unless you are present. Supervised tethering is limited to no more then one hour on/one hour off during daylight hours or thirty minutes during evening hours. In the event a pet is illegally tethered (chained), the pet owner will receive a warning. Failure to take corrective action will result in a civil penalty for cruelty of $100 and a $500 civil penalty for additional offenses.
Changes in public nuisance barking language
Section 10-51 (b) ?? Anyone who keeps or maintains an animal that unreasonably disturbs the comfort or repose of any of any person which are plainly audible to a person of normal hearing ability not located on the same property of the animal or animals because the animal is emitting frequent or long continued sound or noise during the hours of 9:00 PM and 7:00 AM shall be deemed in violation of this section when.
(1) It shall be unlawful for any animal to make, continue or cause to be made or continued any loud, unnecessary or unusual sound or noise which unreasonably annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of others in the county, and which is audible to a person of normal hearing ability more than 50 feet from the property of origin of this sound or noise.
(2) That the person keeping or maintaining the animal has been first notified in writing by certified mail, return receipt requested, by the complaining party that this animal bird being kept by the addressee is unreasonably disturbing his or her comfort or repose. This section shall be liberally construed to accomplish the objective of the section, and the person making this written notification need not use the exact words of this section to the addressee so long as the notification sufficiently informs the addressee of the nature and times of the disturbing noise emitted by the animal.
(3) Upon receipt of a certified letter notifying the person keeping or maintaining such animal, such person shall be required to comply with this section within 72 hours of such notification.
(4) Upon notification of failure to comply with certified notification of noise complaint concerning such animal noise violations, the owner or individual in possession of the property upon which the animal or animals are located will be given a written notice/warning from Animal Control Unit indicating that such animal or animals are creating a disturbance and advising the owner or individual in possession of the property of some possible solutions to rectify the nuisance. The complainant must provide the officer with a copy of the certified letter sent out that includes the address and where the animals are located along with the time(s) of the offense before any written warning/notice shall be issued.. The owner or individual in possession of the property shall then have ten (10) days to resolve the disturbance.
(5) If the disturbance is not resolved within ten (10) days and the Animal Control Unit receives a second complaint from the original complainant, he or she will be asked to provide a sworn statement documenting the violations. The original complainant will also be required to obtain a sworn statement from another individual of the disturbance. The statements must be from individuals residing at different addresses located near and within hearing distance of the animal or animals creating the disturbance. Upon receipt of the sworn statements, the Animal Control Unit may issue a citation in accordance with the requirements of this ordinance.
(6) Or if the disturbance is not resolved within ten (10) days and the Animal Control Unit receives another complaint from another individual residing at a different address located near and within normal hearing distance of the animal or animals creating the disturbance, both complainants will be asked to provide a sworn statement provided the second complainant has complied with sending a certified letter notifying the person keeping or maintaining such animal. Upon receipt of the sworn statements, the Animal Control Unit may issue a citation in accordance with the requirements of this ordinance.
(7) Animal control officers investigating and enforcing this subsection are not required to measure the noise levels with use of a sound level meter.
(8) The original complaint will remain on file and active for a period of sixty (60) days following the ten (10) day resolution period. If no further complaints are made during the sixty (60) day period, the complaint shall expire and the process begin again.
(9) Upon issuance of a citation, the Animal Control Unit may refer the complainant(s) and the owner or individual in possession of the property upon which the animal or animals creating the disturbance are located to private mediation in an effort to resolve their dispute.
(10) Further complaints or failure to comply with mediation recommendations will result in a citation being issued for owner or individual in possession upon which the animal or animals creating the disturbance to appear in court.
(11) Animal noise complaint will be limited to ONE citation being issued. Penalties for violations under this section 10-27 would be fines of up to $250 for first conviction and up to $500 for any further conviction. Court could order removal of any animal or animals found guilty of a second violation.
These changes are needed to shift the focus to using an educational approach in helping pet owners understand the requirements of being responsible pet owners in the community. Enforcement is shifted to focusing on animal issues that clearly present a danger or adds significantly to the cost of administering animal control. If implemented there will also be a significant reduction in case load through the courts and a reduction in adjudication costs as well.
Rather then tossing a net over all pet owners these changes would focus on enforcing and punishing irresponsible pet owners in the county. Ultimately, the goal of any proactive animal ordinance should seek to reduce the number of pets that enter our shelter and not add to those intake numbers.
Your comments, of course are welcome.