Hart Co., Hartwell Talk Animal Control

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

Talks continue between Hart County and city of Hartwell officials regarding the hiring of an animal control officer.

Representatives from Hart County, Hartwell, Animal Shelter, Inc., the Hart County Humane Society and the Northeast Georgia Animal Shelter met again Tuesday evening.

Right now neither Hartwell nor Hart County has any kind of animal control and Hart County has no leash laws and the number of stray animals roaming Hart County has caused numerous complaints from citizens.

Animal Welfare, Inc. board member Judy Partain said that she is hopeful that an animal control policy will be in place soon.

“We’re making great progress,” Partain said. “The city and the county are trying to work together and we should know something in the next few weeks. So, it’s looking positive at this point; if we can get the shelter funding that’s needed.”

However, funding animal control is the sticking point as far as Hart County is concerned.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the group heard from Royston Police Chief Donnie Boleman on how his town runs its animal control.

Boleman said that in Royston, animal control is run out of the police department and responds to situations as they are called in.

He also went over the start up costs to fund an animal control officer.

Animal Control, Inc. representatives suggested a part-time animal control officer would cost both Hart County and Hartwell about $8,500 a year.

Hart County Commissioner Dan Reyen said the numbers Boleman suggested were a bit higher.

“$8,500? No. He’s saying about $75,000,” Reyen said. “We’re looking at anywhere’s from $35,000 to $45,000 from the city and county.”

Hart County is currently working on its Fiscal Year 2013 budget, which is already seeing more deep cuts in spending.

Reyen said that convincing the board in Hart County to spend that much to fund animal control will be an uphill battle.

“That’s the problem right there, trying to sell it to the county,” Reyen said. “Plus, the animal shelter folks are saying if we get animal control and increase the animal load over at the shelter, then they’re going to need full funding, which according to them should be $57,000 and we’re only putting in $30,000. So that’s another $25,000.”

The group plans to meet again this week to continue talks. No deadline has been set to hire an animal control officer.