Banks County News...

May 10, 2006


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Hart estimates $100,000 to begin county animal control
BOC chairman sees need for new department
Banks County chairman Gene Hart said he sees a definite need for animal control in the county.
“Everyone seems to agree it’s something we are going to have to do,” Hart said this week. “The citizens have been asking for this. I know even back when (commission members) Rickey (Cain) and Pat (Westmoreland) ran four years ago, it was an issue then for many citizens.”
Hart discussed the need for a county-operated animal control during the county’s recent budget work sessions. At the time, Hart did not mention figures in terms of start-up cost, but now estimates it will take at least $100,000 to do so. The chairman plans to try and find funding during the final budget setting process.
“I’m still doing research about all of our options,” Hart said. “I get calls from people all the time with animal concerns. I guess the question is, ‘Are people ready to fund it?’”
The $100,000 estimate would cover the cost of a full-time animal control officer along with a truck and equipment, Hart said. Eventually, the chairman said an animal control facility would have to be constructed which would mean more full-time workers to care for the animals that are brought in.
Currently, Banks County marshal Keith Covington handles some animal calls, although he is not trained in all areas including the handling of animals termed “vicious.”
The county currently takes strays that are picked up to Commerce Veterinary Hospital, which charges a fee for each animal brought in. During the budget work sessions, Covington said Commerce Veterinary Hospital has never turned down an animal brought in from Banks County. Commerce Veterinary Hospital then works to get the animals adopted into a new home.
While this arrangement has worked in the past, Hart said the number of calls concerning animals is simply to great for someone to handle on a part-time basis.
“There will be no way out of doing something at some point,” the chairman said. “I want people to know we are trying to so something.”
Hart also believes it would be beneficial for citizens to have one department to contact concerning animal problems. Currently, the chairman said people aren’t sure who to contact and many are calling him directly.
In addition to Covington handling calls about stay animals, the Banks County Sheriff’s Office investigates complaints of animal cruelty and neglect.
If an animal control department is established, Hart said that officer would handle all animal-related calls. If a cruelty case warrants help from the sheriff’s office, then the animal control officer would contact those authorities.
Hart said it also concerns him that so many people don’t properly care for their animals and often times abandon them.

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