Request Humane Additions to Dekalb County Georgia Animal Ordinance sign now

The Dekalb County Georgia Animal Ordinance has recently been updated for the first time in over twenty years. The new ordinance was drafted by Dekalb Animal Services Director Frank Boldoe and his staff along with Acting County Attorney Vivian Ernstes and her staff. The ordinance was recently approved by the Dekalb County Commissioners on December 14th 2004. The above listed entities have been touting the new ordinance as having sweeping humane improvements. There have been some improvements in areas like shelter specs. and the abilility to release an animal who is locked in a hot car. Unfortunately there are many other areas that desperately need improvement, and the requests for those items have been unequivocably ignored even after copious research and documentation to support the neccessity and precedence for more progressive treatment of guarding and companion animals has been submitted to all concerned. Please take a moment to sign this petition imploring these officials to submit the following items as ammendments to the new ordinance. A better animal ordinance in one county can help pave the way for other local counties to follow suit. It is unfortunate that too many people consider their animals to be nothing other than canine auto or house alarms and do not consider them to be sensitive, feeling and especially social creatures that need exercise, human contact and protection from the effects of the environment in order to thrive. Those of us who do rescue or try to lodge a complaint to the authorities can only do so much, making improvements sporadically and painstakingly on a case by case basis. Without clear laws to spell out what is and what is not allowable treatment, there are no legs to stand on for either those of us reporting animal neglect or cruelty or for the animal control officers who we ask to investigate and intervene to stop such abuses. Education is definitely a componant to increasing public awareness, but until all are educated, there are animals suffering because the laws to prevent it are too lax. Some officials have said that though they personally dissaprove of chaining or claustrophobically penning, they do not wish to "criminalize" those that do. It is our opinion that those who so cruelly treat their animals ARE acting criminally and should either comply with these very basic humane guidelines, as financial and physical help IS available to help them do so! (see below..)or not be allowed to have a dog. If they only want a dog for status or protection, may we suggest an alarm system.. It is cheaper in the long run as it does not need to be fed, watered or vetted. A chained or tightly penned dog will most likely bark all of the time out of frustration and boredom, so their ability to alert a family to danger is severely limited. They certainly can not stop a robber from entering your home if they are not in it!

The following are the items we feel are most imperitive to add into the Dkelab County Animal Ordinance at this time ( there are other items we would like to request, however, these we feel are the most immediate )

1. A full ban on the chaining/tethering of companion and guarding animals
as a means of property restraint as has been mandated in many communities across the country including neighboring areas like Alabama and Louisiana Constant chaining or tethering as a form of property restraint has been proven to cause animal depression, embedded collars, hanging, the inability to escape parasites and other predators, as well as a proven increase in aggressive behavior and biting! Currently, animals that are not considered dangerous are allowed to be chained behind a fence or within a pen.. this we find to be redundant and cruel. The current ordinance already specifies that any animal deemed 'dangerous' or 'potentially dangerous' must be contained in a locked and covered stucture, so public safety protections against a 'mean' dog are already in place. Why take an otherwise docile animal, cruelly chain him or her and therefore create the situation that can turn that dog into the very aggressive animal they are suppossedly trying to protect against. To try to include either time length maximums or chain length minimums are very difficult to monitor. Our research has shown that a full chaining ban is the only successful, protective and enforceable option. There are organizations like Dogs Deserve Better(www.dogsdeservebetter.com)that can help citizens create, reinforce or maintain humane fences that would safely, reasonably, and securely house their animals so additional chains and tethers are not neccessary.

2. A 100 square foot primary living space minimum for dogs. Unfortunately, too many dogs are kept in claustrophobically small enclosures, not allowing them proper exercise and forcing them to live amongst their own excrement. The same health and behavioral problems that occur with constant chaining occur here. Many communities have banned this practice including our own neighboring county, Fulton County, GA.

3. Animals must be moved to a heated area during freezing or wind chill factors that simulate freezing temperatures. Currently the ordinance just specifies "some kind of bedding" must be provided. That is too vague to protect adequately against frostbite and other exposure related maladies. Even New Orleans and communities in Florida have provisions to keep animals in heated areas in freezing temperatures, and their climates have less instances of freezing temperatures than ours, yet their provisions to protect animals in this way are much better.

4. We must be allowed to report abuse anonymously. Currently, our animal control officers can refuse to investigate any complaints which are not accompanied by personal information by the complaintant. Most other local counties do not require such information be provided. This requirement obviously deters many citizens from reporting abuse for fear of retribution by those who they complain against as that information can be accessed when requested in writing.

*Additionally, we hope to encourage our officials to set up a multi-disciplinary task force that can work on the pet overpopulation problems that overcrowd our shelters, create dangerous packs of roving animals and leave so many animals sick, starving and continuing to reproduce exponentially.

Thank you for speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves and for taking the time to read the above and sign the below!

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Aisha HaynesBy:
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Dekalb County Officials

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