Commission adopts new fees for adopting strays

It was a matter of raising the fee to adopt a dog or cat through Coweta Animal Control. But with the additional cost comes a pet that is spayed or neutered and has its shots and an implanted microchip. The measure approved last week by the Coweta County Commission followed a recent amendment to the Animal Control Ordinance.

“With the passing of a new ordinance comes some changes, including having to be willing to have a spay and neuter program,” said Warden Bill McKenzie, noting that animal control previously had no sufficient way to insure that animals would have the surgery after adoption.

The new fee is $70 for cats and $120 for dogs and will also include de-worming, rabies vaccine, additional shots and a microchip. Prior to the adoption of the new fee schedule, the cost was $10 for kittens, $15 for cats, $20 for dogs and $5 for vaccines. McKenzie said the new price structure is relatively comparable to some of the surrounding counties.

Addressing the issue of the microchip, McKenzie said the animal shelter will implant the chip and register it under the owners name for a period of one year, adding that the state will eventually mandate the procedure.

The rate for the adoption of previously altered animals will be $45 for cats and $55 for dogs.

Significant to the program is an approach not taken by many animal shelters. It’s a new lease on life for some of the dogs and cats that might otherwise have been euthanized.

“When we select an animal for neutering or spaying for adoption it won’t be killed, even if we have to give it away,” McKenzie said. “Some animals no one will adopt, but we are not going to euthanize them. They will either be adopted or go to a rescue group or given to someone where it can live out its life.”

The commission earlier in September approved an amendment to the Animal Control Ordinance that included provisions for impoundment, humane treatment, tethering animals, transporting them and an additional requirement for commercial animal establishments.

The ordinance amendment pertaining to impoundment now gives the county ownership of impounded animals after three days as opposed to the previous seven day time period. County Public Information Officer Patricia Palmer said the change from seven days to three days allows for earlier adoptions.

A new provision to the ordinance involves humane treatment. The ordinance section states that proper shelter for an animal includes a structure appropriately sized for the animal and consisting of four sides, a roof, floor and an opening for ingress and egress. The structure must also be adequate for protecting the animal from harsh weather.

Another of the new amendments to the ordinance is one that essentially prohibits tethering animals on property. Animals cannot be tethered to a tree, fence, dog house or other stationary object unless the tether is on a trolly system of at least 10 feet in length. Additionally, even if those requirements are met the animal cannot be tethered to a trolly system for more than four hours a day nor can the animal be tethered between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The ordinance also states that the owner or keeper must be on the premises during the time that the animal is tethered.

“Animal control will work with people to allow them time to make the changes they need to make, as long as the animal is healthy,” Palmer said.

Another new provision to the ordinance that will present a significant change to some animal owners states that no person driving a motor vehicle shall transport any animal in the open back of a vehicle unless the space is cross-tethered to secure the animal, unless the space has been enclosed or is protected by a secured container that will prevent the animal from being thrown, falling or jumping out of the vehicle.

Also included in the amendment was a provision that humane societies and rescue groups obtain a business license. Palmer said there will be no charge for the business license if the organization is a non-profit.