The mission of Forsyth County Animal Services is for Animal Services to work in partnership with the community to create a safe, healthy and caring environment for both our citizens and animals. Animal services maintains this through the education and enforcement of county ordinances as they pertain to animals in Forsyth County.
(a) It shall be the duty of the owner of any animal or anyone having an animal in his possession to keep the animal under control at all times while the animal is off the real property limits of the owner, possessor or custodian. For the purposes of this section, an animal is deemed under control when it is confined within a vehicle; is secured by a leash or other device held by a competent person; is under voice control; or is properly confined within an enclosure with permission of the owner of the property where the enclosure is located.
(b) No person shall tie, stake or fasten any animal within any street, alley, sidewalk or other public place or in such manner that the animal has access to any portion of any street, alley, sidewalk or other public place.
(c) Every animal shall be restrained or controlled so as to prevent it from chasing vehicles or attacking persons or other domestic animals.
(d) The owner or custodian of any animal that is proven to be at large shall be in violation of this section, regardless of the precautions taken to prevent the escape of the animal and regardless of lack of knowledge of the offense at the time it occurs.
(e) Any such animal at large may be impounded by the animal services officer or an authorized representative thereof.
(f) Free roaming community cats and feral cats are shall not be considered to be at large and will not be impounded unless showing signs and symptoms of injury or illness.
(a) Every female dog in heat shall be confined in a building or other enclosure in such manner that such female dog cannot come into contact with another male animal except for planned breeding. No owner, possessor, or custodian of any dog or cat in heat shall permit the dog to roam or run free beyond the real property limits of the owner, possessor or custodian.
(a) It shall be the duty of every owner of any animal to ensure that it is confined by way of a fence, restraint, or other enclosure including activated invisible fence or in some other physical manner under the control of a competent person so that it cannot wander off the real property limits of the owner, it being the intent of this article that all animals be prevented from leaving, while unattended, the real property limits of their owners.
(b) The above requirement notwithstanding, it shall be unlawful for the owner of any dog to utilize a tether, chain, cable, rope, or cord as the primary method of restraining a dog, it being the intent of this section that tethering a dog shall be used only as a temporary restraint mechanism. In no event shall a dog be restrained by a tether, chain, cable, rope, or cord when the dog is not in the physical presence of and attended by the owner or adult custodian. The prohibition in this subparagraph shall have no application if the dog is in a park or recreational area where the rules of said park or recreational area require the tethering or physical restraint of dogs. Any tether used to temporarily confine a dog while attended by its owner or custodian must be attached to a properly fitted collar or harness and shall not be wrapped directly around the dog's neck, except that veterinarians, employees of the county's animal shelter, and professional dog handlers, trainers, and groomers may temporarily restrain a dog by a collar affixed around the neck if required as part of the commercial service being provided. Any such tether shall not be excessively heavy or weighted so as to inhibit the dog's movement. It shall be prima facie evidence that a tether is impermissibly heavy if the weight of a dog's tether exceeds ten percent of its body weight.
(c) For purposes of this section 14-33, a dog handler shall be considered a person who, for compensation, trains, conditions, and shows dogs in competition.
(a) It shall be unlawful for a person to abandon any domestic animal owned by said person. No person shall put out or abandon any dog, cat or other domestic animal on public or private property. It shall be unlawful for anyone to abandon any domesticated animal within the county. Each person who does abandon, or permits such abandonment, or aids in the abandonment of any domesticated animal shall be in violation of the law and shall be punished as provided in this article.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to abandon or to turn out at large any sick, diseased or disabled animal, but such animal shall, when rendered worthless by reason of sickness or other disability, be disposed of by the owner thereof in accordance with the rules and regulations of the state.
(c) It shall be unlawful for the owner of any animal or fowl that die or are killed within the limits of the county to fail to remove or bury the carcass of such animal within a reasonable time, and in no event more than 24 hours after its death; provided that, except in property zoned agricultural under the county's unified development code, no horse, cow, ox, pig, sheep, goat, ostrich, llama, emu, or wildlife shall be buried within the limits of the county. All animals buried within the county shall be buried in accordance with regulations of the county board of health, if applicable.
(d) If the owner, possessor or custodian of an animal is not known, and the animal is upon the public streets, alleys, sidewalks, school grounds or other public places or premises, or property of another, without the property owner's permission, as prohibited by this section, any animal services officer, law enforcement officer, or agent or employee duly
(e) authorized by the county shall be authorized to immediately take possession of such animal and impound it in accordance with the rules and regulations provided by law or by ordinance of the county for the detention, control and disposition of animals.
(f) Once impounded, an animal shall be kept for a period of time as outlined in this article, and, thereafter, if the animal is not claimed by anyone after a reasonable effort has been made to locate the owner, possessor or custodian of the animal as provided in this article, the animal may be disposed of in a humane fashion or in accordance with the rules and regulations of the state.
No person shall, by act, omission or neglect, cause unjustifiable physical pain, suffering or death to any animal. This section shall not apply to the killing of animals raised for the purpose of providing food, nor does it apply to any person who shall hunt wild animals in compliance with the game and fish laws of the State of Georgia. Furthermore, this section shall not apply to the killing or injuring of animals for humane purposes or in the furtherance of medical or scientific research or in the necessary defense of one's person or personal property.
(a) Whoever willfully or purposefully kills, abuses, maims or disfigures any animal or willfully or maliciously administers poison to an animal or exposes any poisonous substance with intent that the substance shall be taken and swallowed by an animal shall be in violation of this article. Cropping, docking, and dew claw removal performed by a veterinarian shall not be considered maiming or disfiguring.
(b) Whoever overloads, overdrives, tortures, torments or beats, mutilates, hobbles or kills any animal or causes such acts to be done, or carries in or upon a vehicle or otherwise any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner, shall be deemed in violation of this article. This section shall not prohibit the hobbling of an animal for legitimate training or approved medical care purposes.
(c) No person shall:
(1) Own, possess, keep or train any animal with the intent that such animal shall be engaged in an exhibition of unlawful fighting.
(2) Build, make, maintain or keep a pit on premises owned by him or occupied by him, or allow a pit to be built, made, maintained or kept on such premises, for the purpose of an exhibition of animal fighting.
(3) In any manner encourage, instigate, promote or assist in an exhibition of animal fighting.
(4) Charge admission to, be an assistant, umpire or participant at, or be present as a spectator to any exhibition of animal fighting.
(d) No owner of any dog contracting distemper or parvo shall allow such dog to remain untreated or fail to take prompt steps to have the dog euthanized.
(e) Any animal services officer may impound any animal that has been treated in a cruel manner.
(f) A person who is convicted of animal cruelty as provided in this article may not own, possess, or have on his premises in the county any animal for one year from the date of conviction. A nolo contendere plea is considered a conviction for the purpose of this section. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the court from imposing a time in excess of one year, should circumstances warrant.
(a) It shall be unlawful to endanger an animal’s health by failing to provide or arrange to provide the animal with adequate food or adequate water if the animal is dependent upon a person for the provision of food or water, or by restraining an animal in inhumane conditions or in a manner that endangers the animal’s life or health.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any owner or possessor of any animal to fail to provide adequate water, adequate food, adequate space, adequate shelter, sanitary conditions, or necessary veterinary care in the case of an injury or illness that endangers the life or health of an animal.
(c) It shall be unlawful to leave animals unattended in a parked vehicle without proper ventilation to prevent the animal from suffering physical distress from heat exhaustion.
(1) A law enforcement officer may use any force necessary to remove any animal locked in a closed vehicle when the ambient temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or above outside the vehicle. If the vehicle is damaged during such removal, the law enforcement officer shall not be liable for any damage to the vehicle.
(d) Any animal services officer or other officer empowered to act by law may impound any animal found to be neglected.
No owner or keeper of an animal shall allow an animal to annoy or disturb any person not on the premises of the owner or keeper of the animal by unreasonable barking or other noises. For the purpose of this section, unreasonable barking or other noises shall mean barks, bays, cries, howls or other noises that are continuous or incessant for a period of 30 minutes, or are intermittent for a period of one hour or more. Barking or noises shall not be considered unreasonable if the animal is responding to a trespass or attempted trespass on private property. This section shall have no application to noises or disturbances made by livestock, poultry, or other animals emanating from a legitimate farming operation on property zoned for agricultural use.
Any person that knowingly keeps, owns, harbors, has custody or control of, or acts as custodian of an animal that constitutes a nuisance shall be guilty of an unlawful act and shall be punished as provided in this chapter.
(a) Every dog or cat three months of age or older shall be vaccinated against rabies. Dogs and cats will be revaccinated one year later. When dogs or cats one year of age or older are vaccinated with vaccines accepted by the state, county or department for providing a three-year duration of immunity, boosters will be required every three years. Otherwise, boosters shall be required annually.
(b) All dogs are required to wear a collar containing owner information at all times, except as exempted by section 14-105. Owner information contained in a microchip shall be acceptable to comply with this requirement; but shall not be a replacement for a visible collar. Dogs age three months or older are required to wear a collar and a current rabies tag at all times.
(c) A $5.00 fee will be assessed at the time of all rabies vaccinations (cats and dogs) for registration purposes. All dogs and cats shall be registered with the county. If a dog or cat is vaccinated for rabies by a veterinarian outside of the county, it is the responsibility of the owner to register the animal with the animal services division and pay the appropriate fee. If an owner or custodian of a dog or cat provides written verification that, at the time of rabies vaccination, his dog or cat has been spayed or neutered, such verification shall result in their registration fee being reduced to $3.00.
(d) All veterinarians receiving fees under this section shall deliver such fees to the county by no later than the 15th day of the subsequent month after receipt.
(a) In accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the County Board of Health, all dogs and cats known to have bitten or scratched a person shall be quarantined and confined to a licensed kennel, licensed veterinarian's hospital or facility, animal shelter, commercial boarding facility, any location approved by the animal services supervisor or under home supervision with the approval of the animal services supervisor for a period of ten (10) days following the date of the bite. All expenses incurred for boarding the animal during this period shall be paid by the owner or possessor of the biting animal.
(b) In accordance with the rules and regulations promulgated by the State Department of Public Health, wild animals known to have bitten a person, or any animal which cannot be held for a rabies observation period, shall be humanely euthanized and a lab specimen of brain tissue sent to the State Department of Epidemiology for testing and control of rabies.
(c) Unvaccinated or unwanted animals bitten or scratched by a known potentially rabid animal shall be humanely euthanized immediately. If the owner of the unvaccinated animal is unwilling to have the animal euthanized, upon approval of the animal services division, the exposed animal shall be placed in strict isolation deemed appropriate by the animal services division for four months and vaccinated one month prior to being released. The owner or possessor is responsible for confining the exposed unvaccinated animal in strict compliance with the policies and procedures of the animal services division and county board of health.
(d) Dogs and cats that are bitten or scratched by a known or potentially rabid animal that are current on their vaccinations shall be re-vaccinated immediately, confined, and observed for forty-five (45) days. Confinement must be coordinated with and approved by the animal services division.
(e) For purposes of subsections (c) and (d) of this section, any animal bitten or scratched by a bat or wild carnivorous mammal, including, but not limited to, bobcats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, or coyotes, which are not available for testing, should be considered exposed to rabies.
(f) Failure to comply with the quarantine and/or confinement requirements of this section, the animal services division, or the county board of health constitutes a violation of this chapter and may result in the impoundment of the animal. In that event, the owner or possessor remains responsible for all veterinary, boarding, and other expenses incurred on behalf of the quarantined animal.
(a) It is unlawful for an owner to have or possess within the county a classified dog without a certificate of registration issued in accordance with the provisions of this section. Certificates of registration shall be nontransferable and shall be issued to a person 18 years of age or older. Each classified dog must be separately registered with the County and issued a separate certificate of registration. No more than one certificate of registration shall be issued per domicile, regardless of whether such certificate of registration is for a dangerous dog or a vicious dog.
(b) Subject to the additional requirements of this article, a certificate of registration shall be issued once the animal services officer determines that the following requirements have been met:
(1) The owner has maintained a proper enclosure designed to securely confine the dangerous dog on the owner's property (which shall not include any electronic animal confinement system); and
(2) Clearly visible warning signs have been posted at all entrances to the premises where the dog resides, including a sign issued by the animal services division indicating the dog’s classification number.
(c) Except as otherwise provided in this article, a certificate of registration for a vicious dog shall be issued if the animal services officer determines that the following requirements have been met:
(1) The owner has maintained a proper enclosure designed to securely confine the vicious dog on the owner's property (which shall not include any electronic animal confinement system);
(2) Clearly visible warning signs have been posted at all entrances to the premises where the dog resides;
(3) A microchip containing an identification number and capable of being scanned has been injected under the skin between the shoulder blades of the dog; and
(4) The owner maintains and can provide proof of general or specific liability insurance in the amount of at least $50,000.00 or the maximum amount authorized by state law issued by an insurer authorized to transact business in this state insuring the owner of the vicious dog against liability for any bodily injury or property damage caused by the vicious dog.
(d) The owner of a classified dog shall notify the animal services division, within 24 hours if the dog is on the loose, is unconfined, has attacked a human, has died or been euthanized, or has been sold or relocated. If the dog has been sold or relocated, the owner shall also provide the animal services officer with the name, address, and telephone number of the new owner of the dog and of the effective date of the transfer. Any transferee of a dangerous dog shall be presumed to have notice of the dog’s classification as such. A vicious dog shall not be transferred, sold, or donated to any other person unless it is relinquished to a governmental facility or veterinarian to be euthanized.
(e) The owner of a classified dog shall notify the animal services division if the owner is moving out of the county. The owner of a classified dog who moves to the county from another jurisdiction within the State of Georgia shall register the classified dog with the county within ten days of becoming a resident and notify the animal services division of the jurisdiction from which he or she moved. The owner of a similarly classified dog who is a new resident of the state shall register the dog as required in this section within 30 days after becoming a resident.
(f) Issuance of a certificate of registration or renewal of a certificate of registration by the animal services division in the county does not warrant or guarantee that the requirements specified in this section are maintained by the owner of a classified dog on a continuous basis following the date of the issuance of the initial certificate of registration or following the date of any annual renewal of such certificate.
(g) An animal services officer is authorized to make whatever inquiry is deemed necessary to ensure compliance with the provisions of this article. Pursuant to state law, law enforcement agencies, including those of the county and the municipalities within the county, will cooperate with animal services officers in enforcing the provisions of this article.
(h) An annual fee, which may be set from time to time in an amount deemed reasonable by the board of commissioners, in addition to any regular dog licensing fees shall be paid to register classified dogs as required by this article. Certificates of registration shall be renewed on an annual basis. At the time of the annual renewal of a certificate of registration, an animal services officer shall require evidence from the owner or make such investigation as may be necessary to verify that the classified dog is continuing to be confined in a proper enclosure and that the owner is continuing to comply with other provisions of the animal control ordinance. Failure to renew a certificate of registration within ten days of the renewal date or initial classification date shall constitute a violation of this article.
(i) No certificate of registration shall be issued to any person who has been convicted of two or more violations of this article.
(j) No certificate of registration for a vicious dog shall be issued to any person (or to any person residing with such person) who has been convicted (from the time of conviction until two years after completion of his or her sentence) of:
(1) A serious violent felony as defined in O.C.G.A. § 17-10-6.1;
(2) The felony of dogfighting as provided for in O.C.G.A. § 16-12-37 or the felony of aggravated cruelty to animals as provided for in O.C.G.A. § 16-12-4; or
(3) A felony involving trafficking in cocaine, illegal drugs, marijuana, methamphetamine, or ecstasy as provided for in O.C.G.A. § 16-13-31.1.
Found a kitten and have questions? Read the Animal Shelter Kitten Guide