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The City of Dawsonville recently found itself dealing with a problem it wasn't aware it even had.

According to Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan, the issue of animal control responsibility recently came up due to an incident at the historic courthouse involving a dog snapping at citizens.

The city was contacted by concerned residents, who in turn were told to contact the county's animal control.

"We don't have a current animal control plan in place because we've never had animal control at this point," he said. "The county has always done that and, it's been my recollection, that this was the reason our citizens paid ad valorem tax, for the services that the county offered. City residents are county residents, too."

Grogan said animal control deferred the problem back to the city.

"According to the county, they claim they have 62 separate animals that they have picked up in a 10 month period, which is unusually high to me for the city."

While there hasn't been a charge directly to the city, or its residents, for animal control, Grogan said there has been indication this might change.

"The city has never been charged up to this point, but I have received a letter from the county indicating that they will be in future," he said. "With their charge and what the humane society will charge (to receive the animal), it will cost our citizens $297 per animal."

Grogan said that the city has tried in the past to get this worked out officially with an intergovernmental agreement with Dawson County. The city council voted in March 2013 during a regular called meeting to approve an IGA with the county regarding animal control, but Grogan said the county never responded.

"We tried to set an IGA up in the past. In fact, we've passed one as a city and sent it to the county, but they never signed it," he said.

However, the county is claiming the same thing, having voted unanimously during its Nov. 20, 2014 meeting to approve a proposed IGA with the city for animal control, according to that meeting's minutes.

"The county sent over a purposed agreement to the city and we just never got a reply, so I don't know if the city's ever gotten to it," said Dawson County Attorney Joey Homans. "The board approved it in a meeting and sent it over. We just never heard anything."

Homans said that the city should be fully capable of taking care of its animal issues.

"The city now has separate marshals or officers for code enforcement. The county's marshals don't have any legal authority to enforce city ordinances," he said. "The county's marshals run a risk if they are in the city trying to enforce an ordinance for which they are not lawfully authorized."

Grogan said that, ideally, this issue will become moot soon.

"At our next meeting, we will be discussing this issue in greater detail," he said. "We are hoping to reach a decision during our April 20 called meeting."

 

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