GAINESVILLE - The group was small, but the nine people who approached the Hall County Commission Monday afternoon were passionate about their cause - creation of an anti-tethering law for dogs in the county.
Rick Aiken, the retired Executive Director of the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, acted as a spokesman for the group, using the public comment portion of the commission's work session to ask commission members to think about the welfare of the animals.
He said a law that prohibits tethering is the humane thing to do, noting that dogs who are tied up for long periods of time are often more aggressive. He pointed out a photo of a tethered dog the group brought to the meeting.
"Look at the expression on that dog. You can see his teeth are shown...it's not a good stance. They're frustrated, they're neurotic," he said. The photo of the dog was taken on some property on Pierce Road in Hall County.
Plus, he said, animals often suffer injury when they are tethered.
"They get their legs tangled up in it [the lead]...they're exposed to insect bites, stings...snake bites...they can't get away."
Commissioners Jeff Stowe and Scott Gibbs pushed back at the idea, indicating a law would be difficult and expensive to enforce.
Hall County Commission Chairman Dick Mecum said after the work session he might see a need for such an ordinance as the county becomes more urbanized, but he's not sure now is the right time to take up the issue. He said whether the issue moves forward depends on the community.
"How concerned are they really about this?" asked Mecum. "Some people are very concerned and others don't really care one way or the other."
Aiken said proponents of an anti-tethering ordinance for the county will continue to push elected officials.
"We need folks to talk to the commissioners," said Aiken. "We need them to talk rationally and not be belligerent. This is a very emotional issue and I know it gets people upset, but we need to stay calm and just talk to the commissioners and let them know where we're coming from."
Commission may give year-end bonuses to county employees
Commissioner Scott Gibbs said at Monday's work session he would like to see county employees receive a one-time bonus, now that the county's financial picture is a bit brighter.
"Employees have sacrificed the last five years, and I think that they have helped the budget get better, so I think that we need to reward them some way," said Gibbs.
He stopped short of suggesting a pay raise for county workers.
"I'm not willing to give a pay increase...that goes on forever."
Gibbs said if the county's budget continues to improve, then he would like to see another bonus for employees next year, as well.
Gibbs asked County Administrator Randy Knighton to bring commissioners a couple of options to consider at their Thursday meeting.