Regina (Gina) Taylor, animal control director, said her de-partment is dealing with an average of one dog (or cat) bite each day. “In a county with a population of about 40,000, that is a lot of animal bites,” she said.
Many of these incidents could be avoided if common sense is used, according to Taylor. Re-cent examples, she said, prove this point. A man brought a new cat inside his home where the resident dog took offense. “Everyone should know that a strange dog in the same room with a new cat will result in scratches and bites.” A young woman saw a dog tied up nearby.
“She was a stranger and when the animal saw her at the door, he bit her. It could have been prevented.” An elderly man went on vacation and left his pets with a teen. One got out, went over to the house next door. The neighbor picked up the pet and was bitten. “Some-one wasn’t thinking clearly. You don’t pick up a dog that is out prowling around.”
Taylor said she sees a lack of common sense. “The weather is warmer, and people and ani-mals are crossing paths more often. Individuals need to watch and know what their pets are doing.” She pointed out that the law states if you own an animal in Georgia, you are held responsible – legally and civilly – for what mischief it gets into or does. “If you own it, you pay,” she said.
Taylor emphasized that each resident should know that ownership is determined when an animal is fed at least three times. “Irresponsibility of pet owners in Polk will no longer be tolerated,” she said. She continued: “My people are well trained. Saying an animal that you feed is not your prop-erty isn’t acceptable. We are serious about improving the life of animals and people with pets in this county.”
Taylor said that it could be very expensive for an owner whose pet is involved in mis-chief. The cost for an animal to animal or to a person incident is $70. If the pet has not been vaccinated for rabies, another $70 is charged. And, $150 is added if the animal is quarantined. “The cost can be up to $300 for each case,” she said. “That doesn’t count civil fees if these are charged.” She said tickets are now being issued to help curb the rising incident rate. “Why should an animal be killed when the problem could have been prevented? Often owners will have a dog picked up and then get another that is also involved in a similar incident. We want to change this cycle in ownership.”
Taylor said that countywide animal control has been in operation for about two years. “In Polk, all dogs should have collars and current rabies tag. This is to protect your pet so that if the animal is picked up you will be notified.”
She encouraged all pet owners to be-come responsible and for everyone to stop and think before becoming a bite victim. “That would solve many of the problems. Prevention is the best recommendation I can give. “Be responsible if you own a dog, cat or other animal. If you are not, then you will be charged and the cost can be more than you want to pay. “It can even lead to jail time if you don’t appear before a judge.”