Anti-tethering law passes unanimously in Walton County

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WALTON COUNTY, GA – (Nov. 2, 2022) – Walton County’s K-9 population got a break this week…. finally. After almost a decade of petitioning the Walton County, Ga. government to implement an anti-tethering law, animal advocates were finally able to celebrate a win Tuesday when the Walton County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed an amendment to the Animal Ordinance governing Walton County. The amended ordinance effectively bans the unattended tethering of an animal.

“Tonight, The Forgotten Animals of Walton County Georgia got a win, a much needed win! The no unattended tethering ban was passed thanks to Commissioner Jeremy Adams leading the way to a unanimous vote and the community being the voice for these dogs. We hope this is the beginning to a positive relationship between the community, our animal control and the commissioners,” said Melissa Bowdoin of ETC (End the Cycle). “We can all work together to make changes in or community. This is just the beginning!”

This vote, proposed by Adams, seconded by Commissioner Lee Bradford and passed unanimously, follows a contentious meeting last month with animal advocates addressing the BOC on the inhumane conditions that many animals face in Walton County, some of them dying at the end of a chain because of lack of food, water and shelter. At that time, BOC Chairman David Thompson said that Walton County Animal Control director Shawn Morris was currently working with law professor Lisa Milot from the University of Georgia and the county attorney on a revision to the animal control ordinance and addressing violations of the current ordinance. The amended ordinance was what was presented for the vote. The following all-important tethering ban was included in amended ordinance, as follows:

Tethering. No person may fasten an animal, whether by chain, rope, tie, leash, cable line or other tether,
outdoors or inside a structure or vehicle, to any thing including, but not limited to, a dog house, tree, fence, vehicle, runner, trolley system, other animal, cinder block, crate, house, furniture, or other object, unless it is on a temporary basis and a competent and responsible person is attending the animal. A person is attending an animal if the person is competent and responsible for the animal, is in the same structure or vehicle as the animal or is outside on the same property as the animal, has a clear line of site to the animal, and is close enough to physically intervene before the animal harms another person or animal.
(1) It shall be the duty of every owner of a domesticated animal to ensure such animal is not tethered in
violation of this section.
(2) Any tether used while an animal is tethered in accordance with the requirements of this subsection (e) must be attached to a proper collar or harness.
(3) An animal may not be tethered at any time:

a. By use of a prong, choke, pinch, martingale, or similar collar;
b. By use of a rope, chain, or other tether wrapped directly around the animal’s neck or body;
c. By use of a tether that, including all collars, harnesses, weights, locks, and other items that have
their weight borne by the animal, weighs more than five percent of the body weight of the
d. In an outside compartment of a running vehicle;
e. In a manner that prevents the animal from lying, sitting, or standing comfortably and without the
restraint becoming taut other than while undergoing customary grooming or veterinary
f. In a manner that allows the animal to become entangled on the restraint or another object;
g. In a manner that endangers the animal by restricting its access to adequate food, water, or
shelter; or
h. In a manner that causes injury to the animal.

From Walton County Animal Ordinance

Animal advocates said while they are very happy that the issue of tethering has finally been settled, they hope to see other issues addressed such as proper kennel sizes.

Sally Mansour with End the Cycle had pointed out at the October meeting that they had addressed the BOC in 2014, 2018 and 2019 in efforts to draw attention to some instances of animal abuse, including backyard breeding and dogfighting. Other issues that Mansour said she believed would have a positive impact on both the animals as well as the provide some relief for the Walton County Animal Shelter would be to allow volunteers to work at the shelter. Thompson said he believed it was a legal issue that prevented it. However, many surrounding counties do have volunteers. The shelter also is not open on a Saturday, something that can impede the ability of potential adopters to visit the shelter and see the available animals. Volunteers could assist in making that possible.

The City of Monroe had passed an anti-tethering law several years back but had to repeal it to stay in line with Walton County due to the fact that the county was responsible for enforcing the animal ordinances.

The full amended Walton County Animal Ordinance can be seen at this link.

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