Franklin Co. Hires Animal Control Officer

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

Franklin County now has its own animal control officer.

At its regular meeting last Monday night, the Franklin County Commission heard from County Manager John Phillips, who said the county is required by law to have some kind of animal control.

Phillips cited House Bill 685, otherwise known as the Responsible Dog Ownership Law, which went into effect in 2012.

“This is a law that deals with two classifications of dogs, dangerous dogs and vicious dogs,” Phillips told the board. “So as a part of that law, all local governments are required to designate a local animal control officer.”

Franklin County government has, in the past, considered instituting some sort of animal control ordinance, but never has because of public sentiment against the idea.

However, Phillips said adding an animal control officer is not the same as instituting a leash law.

“This is not a leash law, but this is an animal control officer that deals specifically with dogs that can be categorized at least at the dangerous level due to attacks on humans or other animals,” he said.

Phillips then recommended that the duties of animal control be added to the duties of Franklin County Marshal Chris Ayers.

The move by the Franklin County Commission comes after a woman suffered severe injuries when she was attacked by a vicious pit bull in March when she and her family went to buy firewood at a home on State Route 59.

Commissioners David Strickland and Clint Harper agree the move to have some sort of animal control in Franklin County was a long time coming.

“I think Chris could actually go and record the incident in a timely manner instead of having to wait months,” said Strickland.

“I think we should have already done this even without a new state law,” said Harper. “It just gives us a go-to person that is familiar instead of bogging down our Sheriff’s department.”

After hearing from Phillips, Franklin County Commissioners voted unanimously to appoint County Marshal Chris Ayers as the animal control officer.