Animal control tightens leash on city animals

ALBANY, Ga. -- In response to some animal containment issues in the city, the Albany Police Department's animal control unit will soon be strictly enforcing a few city ordinances.

"The grace period has passed (on some of the ordinance violations), and we still see that people have not complied," said Sherman Capers, superintendent of the animal control unit.

The main issue authorities will be looking out for is tethering. Section 10-5 prohibits tethering as the primary means of confinement and states that tethered animals must wear collars.

"The dogs can't be chained up 24/7," Capers said. "It can't be the only means of confinement."

This is a message officials want to stress as the weather starts to get warmer.

"With the dogs chained up in the heat, they can't fend for themselves," Capers said. "We are just looking out for the benefit of the animal.

(Having them on a chain all day) changes their disposition.

"Some people have their dogs on chains all the time."

The ordinance also states that animals may be tethered with cables or chains. Chains must be the minimal weight and thickness needed to secure the particular animal.

"If it is a small dog, don't use a chain you can pull someone out of a ditch with," Capers said. "You can use medium-sized chains."

Large, heavy chains are prohibited. No animal should be fitted with weights of any kind at any time.

There are also ordinances in Article IV pertaining to livestock, a classification that applies to cattle, horses, sheep and pigs, among other animals.

"Wildlife is prohibited in the city limits," he said.

Officials also will be cracking down on bird containment. While people are allowed to have certain birds in their homes as pets, there are things pertaining to birds that authorities wish not to see.

"People can't have chickens locked up in a chicken coop," Capers said. "They can have birds (such as parrots) in the house. We are talking about chickens in a chicken coop and things of that nature."

Violators will receive a citation and a fine. Some of the agents however, will likely give the public some time before issuing citations.

"(The agents) will give them a chance to correct it," Capers said. "The agents know the neighborhoods and who will comply and who won't. We will let the agents make the decisions."

While he is relying on the agents themselves, Capers said it would be no more than a month before people start receiving fines.

"We will give them a warning," Capers said. "If they don't change it, we will charge them."

City ordinances can be accessed online at www.albany.ga.us. Animal control officials can be reached at (229) 431-2132.