Athens-Clarke Commissioners Review Electric Pet Fence Ordinance

Athens-Clarke Commissioners Review Electric Pet Fence Ordinance

Pet owners in Athens who use electric fences may face some changes following a recent meeting by Athens-Clarke County commissioners where they reviewed the issue.

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According to an article by the Red & Black, at the meeting held on Aug. 16 the Athens-Clarke county commissioners reviewed an ordinance that would define what an electronic containment system is and the circumstances in which it would be able to be used.

“Anytime we have animal issues come up they can be complex and have a diversity of opinion around them,” District 9 Commissioner Kelly Girtz is quoted as saying at the meeting. “Certainly this [issue] is somewhat unique in that we’re diving into some new code area that we’ve not been in before.”

According to the draft of the ordinance, an animal can only be confined if there are signs around the property stating that an electric containment system is in use. The draft of the ordinance also states that no animal classified as a dangerous animal under state or local code would be able to be legally confined by an electric fence. According to the Official Code of Georgia, a “dangerous dog” is any dog that causes “substantial puncture of a person’s skin by teeth,” “aggressively attacks in a manner that causes a person to reasonably believe that the dog posed an imminent threat of serious injury” or “while off the owner’s property, kills a pet animal,” with hunting, herding and predator control dogs exempt from the latter.

“At the meeting, some commissioners saw a benefit to electric pet fences, while others were skeptical about their effectiveness and safety,” the article reads. “District 5 Commissioner Jared Bailey said the cost of an electric fence is much less compared to a traditional fence … and would therefore lead to more dogs being confined.”

District 8 Commissioner Andy Herod said he does not see electric fences as an effective means of containment.

“Herod said electric fences also do not keep people or other animals off a property where an electric containment system is in use, which can cause problems if a dog is territorial,” the article reads. “Even though the ordinance would prevent the legal use of an electric fence on an animal which has previously bitten a person or animal, some commissioners were concerned that the ordinance would not actually do anything to prevent future dog attacks.”