Chatham pet rescues, vets back changes to animal ordinance

CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga (WSAV) – Changes to Chatham county’s animal ordinance are aimed at reducing the number of  feral  animals in unincorporated Chatham county. A lot of these changes will only affect neighbors in unincorporated Chatham county. The county hopes cities like Savannah and Pooler or Tybee will adopt similar rules.

“It’s for the betterment of the animal is what they’re trying to do,” says Islands Feral Cat Project coordinator Marie Rodriguez.

An increase in pet populations means more work for the county and rescuers like Marie Rodriguez.

“Nineteen cats, new cats, showed up at the Lazaretto Creek boat ramp. we trapped thirteen of the cats to have them spayed and neutered the veterinarian says not one of them was a feral cat,” says Rodriguez.

The changes to the animal ordinance involve stricter rules for owners and more power for Animal Services. It outlaws tethering an animal or putting them in kennels further that one hundred feet from a home or without proper roofing or sidings. Some are still confused about when animal control can take an animal.

“They’re not going to be going around picking up people’s cats, that’s a misconception, but they do want to make sure that animals that are owned are spayed and neutered, that they have identification.”

Animals will only be picked up if deemed a nuisance, if that happens more than three times they’ll be spayed and neutered.

“I love the fact that they are wanting to neuter a menacing dog or a dog that is aggressive from the people who don’t do that, that will cut down on the problem,” says Rodriguez talking about the new definitions the ordinance made for dangerous dogs. She says this can be a direct way to address dog bites in the county.

The changes will benefit pet owners and vets by allowing for a three-year rabies vaccine instead of annually.

“It actually allows us to vaccinate let and in accordance with current standards of care,” says Whitemarsh Animal Care Managing Vet Kari Jenkins.

Bigger penalties and pedigree requirements are coming for breeders. Rodriguez believes it’s a move forward for the county.

“Now enforcing that they must have them spayed and neutered will make my job a lot easier and the jobs of the rescues,” says Rodriguez.

County officials forwarded us some key changes they listed from the ordinance change. You can see them below..

  1. The terms “menacing” and “at large” were defined.
  2. Humane Treatment for outdoor dogs includes a 3 sided shelter with a roof in addition to the 100 square feet per dog.
  3. Natural geographic boundaries do not require fences.
  4. “Hearing Officers” determine whether or not a dog becomes classified.
  5. If your animal is caught at large three-times, it must be spayed or neutered before return.
  6. Cats at large can be deemed a nuisance and trapped by Animal Services.
  7. No change to the tag and collar requirements for cats in a revision presented this year.

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