Monday, February 08, 2016

Oconee County Animal Control Advisory Board Agenda Does Not Include Discussion Of Changes To Ordinance

Davis Confirms

The Oconee County Animal Control Advisory Board will discuss a number of issues when it meets on Wednesday evening, but updates to the county’s animal control ordinance isn’t likely to be one of them.

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis, when asked by a citizen last week about the status of a new ordinance, acknowledged that Commissioner Jim Luke had called for discussion of possible changes in the county’s existing law.

Davis said, however, that the Board had not asked the county attorney to review the issue and had not directed the Animal Control Advisory Board to take any action.

Magistrate Judge Eric Norris last week also put off action on another issue of interests to many of those involved in animal protection in the community.

At the request of Catlyn Vickers, director of the Oconee County Animal Control Department, Norris moved the arraignment of Douglas Lanier Orr, 1430 Broadlands Drive, east of Watkinsville, on five counts of animal cruelty from this coming Friday to 9 a.m. on March 11.

Davis’ Comments

Wendy Jackson, special events coordinator for the Oconee County Animal Shelter, asked the commissioners at the start of the meeting on Feb. 2 “what progress has been made” on review of the existing ordinance.

She raised in particular the possibility of changes to the ordinance dealing with tethering of animal. That practice is allowed in the current ordinance, but many of those working as volunteers at the Animal Shelter and many of the staff have spoken against the practice.

Davis told Jackson that “no direction has been given” to the county attorney or the Animal Control Advisory Board regarding the changes, as the video below shows.

OCO: No Direction from Lee Becker on Vimeo.

Davis told Jackson the Advisory Board would be discussing other issues at its 7 p.m. meeting on Wednesday, including changes to the bylaws for that body. The meeting will be held at the Community Center in Veterans Park.


Vickers released an agenda last week for that meeting that includes, in addition to a discussion of the bylaws, a review of the status of a feasibility study for renovation or replacement of the existing Animal Shelter, located off U.S. 441 in the far south of the county.

Also on the agenda is a review of the fees charged by the Animal Control Department for such things as adoptions, the department’s budget for the next fiscal year, and a public education program on fencing, spaying and neutering.

The Advisory Board also will discuss meeting dates for the remainder of the year. That topic has been controversial in the past, with some Board members wanting more frequent meetings and others opposed.

The county’s web site lists minutes for two meetings in 2010, one in 2011, two in 2012, three in 2013, two in 2014, and two in 2015.

The minutes for a third meeting, held on Oct. 7 of 2015, are up for review at the meeting on Wednesday, but the Board has had trouble approving its own minutes in the past because of disagreements about member editing of them and their accuracy.

Citizens will be given a chance to speak at the end of the meeting on Wednesday, according to the agenda released, but each speaker will be restricted to five minutes of comment.

Orr Citations

Animal Control cited Orr for the five counts of animal cruelty on Nov. 10 after an officer of the department found five cats in a garbage container at the front of the Orr property.

According to the citation, Orr admitted to the Animal Control officer that he shot the cats, saying he did not want to pay the fees associated with surrendering them.

Orr is being represented by attorney William W. Lavigno III of Conyers, according to Magistrate Court documents.

The county has a solid waste management ordinance that prohibits the placement of dead animals in trash or litter containers, but Orr has not been cited with violation of that ordinance.

The court records give no indication of why Vickers requested that the arraignment on the animal cruelty citations be postponed.

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