By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
For the first time in its 160-year history, Hart County has an animal control ordinance.
At its regular meeting earlier this month, the Hart County Board of Commissioners heard a final reading of the ordinance and held a public hearing before taking a vote and passing the ordinance.
The only question came from Hart County Commissioner Joey Dorsey, who questioned whether there would be a grace period.
Hart County Attorney Walter Gordon said that would be up to the commission.
“As a general principle of law, unless an effective date is specified in the ordinance, then it is effective upon its adoption,” said Gordon. “Therefore, it is in effect now.”
However, Gordon recommended giving people an opportunity to voluntarily comply with the tenants of the ordinance.
One of those requirements now is for dog owners to have a collar and name tag on their animals at all times as well as a valid rabies tag.
Members of the Hart County Humane Society have been pushing for a county animal control ordinance for years.
Hart County Humane Society President Donna Madkiff said the new ordinance, which only deals with stray and abandoned dogs, is a start.
“That is what I said over a month ago,” said Madkiff. “I am very disappointed, however, that there is nothing in the ordinance addressing stray and abandoned cats, but I was told to take what I can get and be happy about it, so I am trying to be happy about it. Hopefully, cats will be brought in at a later date.”
At a previous meeting, the Board told Madkiff they wanted to get something on the books first that dealt with the stray dog problem.
Myers said at the time, stray and abandoned cats would be addressed in the future.
The next step for Hart County is to hire an animal control officer or appoint one from the Hart County Sheriff’s Office.
That issue, the board said, will be worked out as part of its Fiscal Year 2014 budget process.