Chatham Co. pushes to change Animal Ordinance, asks for public input

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV)- Chatham county is proposing some changes to its Animal Ordinance. The changes could affect how Animal Control officers handle lost pets and animal abuse.

In just one year, employees at Chatham County Animal Services take in over 4,000 animals. Many of those animals are strays or pets that people find.

“That can sometimes create a problem where we have a lot of animals to deal with and so we have to make a decision on what we do with these,” said Dr. Jake Harper, Director of Chatham County Animal Services.

Community Facebook groups have made the recovery process easier, however, the county’s ordinance still requires people to turn in lost pets immediately.

“I would like to see not only people individually hold a pet a longer time, but also the rescues be allowed to,” said Lisa Scarbrough, Founder of Coastal Pet Rescue.

“The reason being that an individual may pick up an animal they are not able to house that animal but they don’t want to take it to animal control,” she said.”But, they don’t know what to do with it.”

The county is also hoping to change the way abuse and neglect are handled. Right now, only police officers have the authority to cite offenders.

“Sometimes neglect and cruelty may not progress to the need to arrest people it may just be simply hey we take the dog and we address this in a court of law,” said Dr. Harper. “It actually streamlines that process a little bit.”

A lot of the animals housed here are stray cats and Dr. Harper said an overwhelming amount are euthanized due to overcrowding.

One of the proposed changes would decriminalize the act of feeding those stray cats before they get put in a shelter.

“Taking away that stigma will one give us the one the opportunity to address each situation individually and decide do these cats belong there are there other options to deal with these cats,” said Dr. Harper. “Versus rounding them up and bringing them to the shelter.”

Chatham County Animal Services will host a public meeting to discuss the proposed changes on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

The meeting will take place in the Chatham County Legislative building on 124 Bull Street in Savannah.

To review all of those proposed changes just click here, the Commission Staff’s report begins on page 100.

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