As the Georgia summer heats up, pet owners can take simple precautions keep both their furry friends and human neighbors safe this season.
Ciji Baker, Rockdale Animal Control and Shelter manager, reminded residents at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting of basic laws on keeping dogs outside.
Owners need to make sure to provide plenty of water and proper shelter for the dog to go and cool off during the day.
“Water can be the difference between life and death,” said Baker.
Dogs are not allowed to be tethered to a fixed object – a law that was put in place in 2006 but that many owners still don’t know about.
If you keep your dog outside, the leash or chain needs to be on the runner system, or on a cable or line stretched between two posts, a tree and a post, or two trees. This gives the dog a range of motion.
Dogs and cats need to be current on their rabies shots. If you come across a dead raccoon, fox, or opossum, or bat, make sure to call the shelter so they can pick it up and test it.
Dogs also need to be kept under control and not allowed to roam free. Owners need to be extra watchful as kids come in and out of the house during summer vacation.
“We get a lot more calls about the dogs running loose” in the summer, said Baker. Animal control deals with about 100 bite incidents a year.
“Most of the bites we deal with are preventable. It’s knowing your animal,” he said. Animal control gives tips on bite prevention and will come out to a class or neighborhood to do so, Baker said.
Violating the ordinances can result in fines up to $1000 and/or 60 days in jail. Most times, a first citation will come with a $150 fine and a second citation will go up to $300.
With the warm winter, this has also been one of the worst years for fleas and ticks, said Dr. Leslie Lathem of Honey Creek Veterinary Hospital. Flea and ticks can easily be prevented with topical treatments or pills for your dog or cat.
Lathem also warned about leaving pets in cars, even with the windows open.
"We see about three cases a summer where they die and we hear of about 10 cases a year. If it happens at home the best thing is try to cool them down with a hose or cold bath water and call your vet right away." She said it is crucial to attempt to cool the pet down before going to the vet as they could die during transport if no immediate relief is reached.
This is also “breeding season” when many more puppies and kittens are born, and the key to preventing unwanted dogs and cats is spaying and neutering. Many area vets and clinics offer low cost spay and neuter services. You can call Rockdale County Animal Control at 7700-278-8412 or Paradox Spay/Neuter Clinic at 770-922-5067.
Commissioner Oz Nesbitt said, “The summer is peak season for accidents and incidents involving dogs and children. Not only do we need to make sure we provide the proper care for our pets, we also need to make certain they are properly restrained. Dog bites and attacks are more frequent during this time of year.”
He added, “I applaud the efforts of our Animal Control staff and strongly encourage citizens to contact us when they notice violations. Better safe, than sorry.”