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Athens City Council sets public hearing on proposed animal ordinance changes

By  | October 10, 2018 | Filed under: News

ATHENS-There will be a public hearing on Oct. 22, 2018, to hear comments regarding proposed changes to the City of Athens animal ordinance. The hearing will occur during the regular Athens City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.


The proposed changes address clarifying some areas such as ADA requirements, updating sections and eliminating portions no longer viable.


The major change focuses on tethering and non-tethering.


The council is considering two options:

  • Allowing dogs to be kept on a tether or in a pen with various requirements related to that option.
  • Banning all tethering.


A committee of city staff and citizens drafted the ordinances with input from the city attorney and presented them to the City Council at the Oct. 8 Council meeting.


Citizens can review an overview of the changes on the city’s website at: Look for the article at the end of the home page in the section called “Athens News.”

Athens City Council

Summary of Proposed Changes / Option A and B October 8, 2018

Current Ordinance                               O lion A   O tion B

Sec. 10-6. No person (except a licensed vet) shall crop a dog’s ears. Amends Sec. 10-6. No person may perform a medical procedure on any animal (except a licensed vet). Does not apply to animals subject to agricultural activities. Same as Option A
Sec. 10-5. Prohibits the keeping of wild animals. Adds Sec. 10-16, prohibiting the keeping of various dangerous animals (except for zoos and other certain situations), such as lions, tigers, poisonous reptile, bears, etc. Same as Option A
Sec. 10-42. States that when dogs are kept in an enclosure, there should be sufficient room for exercise, reasonable protection from weather, protect dog from outside dogs. States that dogs may be kept on leashes not less than 12 feet long. Dogs can’t be kept in carports/garages.

Otherwise, no restriction on whether dogs are kept on a tether or in a pen.

Sec. 10-42. Allows dogs to be kept on a tether or in a pen. Same rules for enclosures, plus that when dogs are kept in an enclosure, it must be at least 100 square feet (with neither width nor length less than 8 feet) for dogs of 30 pounds or more, and 36 square feet (6 feet) for dogs of less than 30 pounds). If dogs are kept on a tether, must not be secured to a stationary object, but on a trolley/cable run system with (i) only one dog attached, (ii) not less than 12 feet long, (iii) no choke collar, (iv) swivel on one end, (v) tether of size/strength to restrain dog, (vi) length allows for shelter and water, and (vii) length doesn’t subject dogs to dangerous physical conditions. No dog can be kept in dan erous/unsanita area. Sec. 10-42. Same as Option A, except that dogs can’t be kept on tethers at all. (Note: This applies to how dogs are “kept”, it does not apply to dogs on leashes in presence of the owner; so, for example, walking a dog on a leash is fine.)


Shelters must be moisture proof and windproof to keep dog clean and dry. Dogs can’t be kept in carports or ara es.
Sec. 10-141. Sets out various fines for violations of these rules. Sec. 10-141. Increases all minimum fines from $5 to $50. Adds Dangerous

Animals (Minimum $50, Max

$500, possible sentence of 160 days). Adds Confinement of Dogs (Minimum $50, Max $200 .

Same as Option A

Other Minor Changes

  1. Various typographical and clarifying changes throughout.
  2. Recognized current administrative structure for animal control, through third party contractor operating an animal shelter and enforcement of animal ordinances by code compliance officers.
  3. Deleted unnecessary definitions.
  4. Clarified the ban on keeping “wild animals” by defining wild animal.
  5. Eliminated multiple offenses and burden-shifting framework for running at large offender.
  6. Clarified ordinance prohibiting dumping animals in the City; eliminated unenforceable prohibition on dumping animals outside the City.
  7. Eliminates old ordinance requiring that all dogs and cats be licensed.
  8. Clarifies that the duty of a pet owner to remove the pet’s feces from other properties is limited to dogs.
  9. Existing ordinance makes it unlawful to deny admittance of service dogs with blind persons; proposals do the same, but are clarified to mirror ADA requirements.
  10. Existing Section 10-36 generally requires that all cats and dogs be leashed. The proposals clarify that this rule requires a cat or dog to be leashed or caged while on a public street, alley, walking track, etc. (except for dog parks).
  11. Existing ordinance allows 5 days before strays are put down, but states that dogs/cats under 2 weeks old can be immediately put down. The proposed ordinance would make all animals subject to the 5 days, with no exceptions for young animals.
  12. Existing ordinance requires that injured/diseased animals be put down; proposed ordinance allows it, but does not require it.
  13. Under existing Sec. 10-6, owners must provide pets with food, water, shelter, protection from weather, vet care, humane care and treatment. Nothing here has changed, or is proposed to be changed.
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