Georgia County Government - October 2008 - (Page 59)

Feature Are Animal Control Costs Out of Control? Rising Expenses Lead Counties to Seek Cost-Reducing Alternatives By Andrew J. Watson Former ACCG Intern M any of us are familiar with the classic movie “Old Yeller,” a tale of a boy and his canine companion. Much to the dismay of his owners (spoiler alert), Old Yeller contracts rabies and has to be “put down.” In this 1957 film, it is the pet owner’s responsibility to keep the rabid animal from harming others, and the choice method of euthanization has two barrels and a trigger. Yet, the situation is much different today: sight of a rabid dog would likely warrant a call to the nearest animal control center, as Georgia county governments are required by law to provide dangerous dog control (O.C.G.A. §4-8-22). Furthermore, euthanization of animals has become more humane; use of a sodium pentobarbital injection ensures that animals being put to sleep do not suffer. However, as one might expect, provision of animal control services by a county requires funding by taxpayer dollars, and the costs of providing such services continues to rise. One rural county in Georgia calculates that the cost of euthanization per animal averages $18, including the price of euthanization charged by the local veterinarian and the fuel and labor costs In Georgia, euthanasia can be performed by anyone who is ‘properly trained in the proper and humane use of a method of euthanasia,’ so long as they perform the procedure under supervision of a licensed veterinarian or physician. of having an animal control employee transport the animals to the veterinarian. Typically veterinarians charge $5 for euthanization in addition to $5 if sedation is needed. Last year, the county in this example took in 3,900 cats and dogs, 3,300 of which were eventually euthanized, bringing the cost of euthanization to an estimated $59,400. In addition, while $14,000 was requested for gasoline expenditures in the previous year, the amount requested for the upcoming year has more than doubled to $33,000, a strong indicator of the affect that the rising cost of fuel has had on local government services such as animal control. With the rising cost of fuel and animal euthanization, it has become increasingly difficult to affordably provide animal control services. Is there a way to cut operating costs, and if so, how? In the State of Georgia, euthanasia can be performed by anyone who is “properly trained in the proper and humane use of a method of euthanasia,” so long as they perform euthanasia under supervision of a licensed veterinarian or physician. This does not require that a veterinarian or physician be present at the time euthanasia is performed (O.C.G.A. §4-11-5.1(e)). Oconee County ANIMAL CONTROL continued on page 60 OCTOBER 2008 59

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - October 2008

Georgia County Government - October 2008
President's Message
County Matters
South Georgia's Agricultural Heartland Welcomes Economic Diversity, High-Tech Research
What Do You Know About the State's 2008 Constitutional Amendments?
Union County's New Hope Clinic
Counties and the Law: U.S. Supreme Court Increases Burden on Defending Age Claims
Cyber Security Awareness
Are Animal Control Costs Out of Control?
Dave Wills Joins ACCG Staff
Executive DRIVE is the Pinnacle of Gwinnett's Leadership Institute
Preventative Medical Program Succeeds in Chatham County
DCA's Planning & Quality Growth Office Reveals New Regional Planning Approach
Implementation of Georgia's Security & Immigration Compliance Act
The Roundabout: Glynn County's Newest Approach to Traffic Management
Governor Urges Preparation for Digital TV Transition
The Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership
Wharton Named Program Director for Georgia Centers for Innovation
Army Ranger Turned Police Officer Attends CDP Training
ACCG Staff Attends National Conference of State Legislatures Summit
ACCG Editor, Forsyth County PIO Garner NACIO Awards
GDEcD News: Tourism Grants; Scan-Tech to Expand
Benefit News: GEBCorp Marks Eight Years of Retirement Benefits
Georgia's Courthouses and the American Renaissance
Extension News: Georgia 4-H Impacts Student Achievement, Leadership
Research Center: Best Methods for Creating Ordinances in Your County
CCAP Corner: Walter F. Rosso, Cusseta-Chattahoochee County
NACo News: Association Sponsors 'Green' Competitions
Beth Bradley Joins ACCG Staff
County Parade
Index of Advertising

Georgia County Government - October 2008