New Animal Rules in Place

Do you own an animal in Chatham County, or are you thinking about getting one? There are some new laws you need to know about. Today, the Chatham County Commission approved the controversial revised animal ordinance.

The meeting was not heated, but very emotional. Commissioners were dealing with topics like euthanasia, animal cruelty and tether laws, all which will affect pet owners.

The commission spent more than three hours going over the revised animal ordinance, dealing with differing opinions from the Humane Society of Chatham/Savannah, Animal Control officers and concerned pet owners.

"I think we made a good start, we had a lot of tough decisions that had to be made, and we obviously won't make everyone happy," said commissioner Helen Stone.

The most major changes are:

*Pet registration for unneutered or unspayed cats and dogs has gone from $20 to $35
*For neutered and spayed pets, it has gone from $2 to $5
*Owners whose dogs are caught by Animal Control now have a five-day waiting period instead of three before the dogs are euthanized
*Animal cruelty laws have been made stronger
*Tethering is now illegal
*If you plan on selling more than one of an animal's litters, then you have to have a commercial pet animal facility license

"Overall, I am very pleased," said the Humane Society's Robert Lee.

Animal Control officers say new animal neglect laws will help them enforce the kind treatment of animals. "Housing is now described, people can't be having blue barrels that have been used in the past for dogs to live in," said Lt. Brenda Boulware. "And there are certain other things outlawed in there."

These laws go into effect immediately, but only for unincorporated areas of Chatham. The county attorney is asking that municipalities, like Savannah, Pooler and Garden City, adopt the same ordinance, because right now each of them has different laws, which can be confusing for the metro police department enforcing them.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro,