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Posted: February 21, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Social Circle addresses stray dog issues

The City of Social Circle amended their vicious dog ordinances on Tuesday after many members of the community complained about stray dogs running through their neighborhoods.

"It’s only a matter of time until the dogs attack someone," said resident Mary Williams. She stated that several owners have been letting their dogs loose, and that they are currently causing problems in the community.

She alleges that a stray dog tried to get onto a school bus one day, and that the driver could not let the children off with the dogs near. Williams says many of the dogs she has seen have been Pit Bulls.

The council approved several changes to the vicious dog ordinances at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, and increased the fines that residents could be charged for letting their dogs run free.

The ordinance states that all dogs must be kept in proper enclosures or properly leashed on property with an appropriate collar and rope. Dogs must also have access to water and shelter wherever they are tethered.

Animals found wandering will be gathered by animal control and taken to the pound. Animals not claimed after three days may be put down.

Councilmember Angela Porter stated that a resident who does not want their animal should take it to the pound, and not just released in a neighborhood.

Those in violation of the ordinances, or caught the ordinances, or caught releasing animals, will be subjected to fines as high as $1,500.

"People have a responsibility to take care of their animals," Mayor James Burgess said.

Director of Public Safety Tom Fox stated that the Social Circle Police Department would be working with Walton County Animal Control to address the immediate situation. City Attorney Joe Reitman also encouraged concerned residents to carry pepperspray.

The new ordinances also address wild and exotic animals, fowls and livestock and animal nuisance.

Also at the council meeting on Tuesday night:

• The council also passed an amendment to the ordinance against graffiti, modeled after the Loganville graffiti code. The amendment gives the city several options to clean up and to prosecute not only those who create the graffiti, but to property owners who are negligent in preventing and cleaning up graffiti.

The ordinance states that owners who allow graffiti on their property can be fined and can be forced by the city to clean it up. Reitman said that residents who try in good faith to keep their property graffiti free would not be fined in the event of vandalism. The fines can go from $500 to $1,000

Reitman said that graffiti is not a problem in Social Circle at this point, and that the ordinance is simply a preventative measure.

• There will be a special school board election for District 3 March 16. The council voted on Tuesday night to move the voting to the community room of the Old City Hall, the voting location for most other elections. Voting had previously been housed at the First Baptist Church.

The Council also stated that Walton County would be working with the city for the election, and may loan the city county equipment to use.

• The Social Circle Planning and Zoning committee will be holding a special work session on Feb. 22, to address amendments to the Social Circle zoning ordinance and procedures. The drag strip issue will not be addressed at the meeting, but members of the Concerned Citizens of Social Circle have stated they plan to attend and have applied for a permit to picket the meeting.

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