F O G A S     Friends of Gilmer Animal Shelter, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Pet ownership is a privilege, not a right of all people.   Owning a pet means providing adequate care and treatment.   Owning a pet also means protecting your pet from dangers in the community and in return, ensuring that your pet does not cause trouble in your neighborhood.  

For the safety of your pet, your neighbors, and your family, there are many pet-related laws with which you must familiarize yourself.   An Animal Control Officer is charged with enforcing the animal related laws. Violation of these laws constitutes a misdemeanor, with penalties ranging from small fines to imprisonment.  

Outlined here are some frequently asked questions that may help you understand some things about Animal Control, County Ordinances and State Laws regarding your pets and animals in general.  

 

 

Click on a BONE to select your question.

What do I do if a dog or cat bites or scratches me?
What happens after I file a bite report?
What animals carry rabies?
What do I do if my dog or cat bites someone?
What can I do about nuisance animals or wildlife?
Can I trap stray or wild animals in my yard?
How do I file a complaint about barking dogs?
What do I do if my animal is missing?
What constitutes a “barking dog”?
What constitutes “cruelty to animal”?
What do I have to do to reclaim my animal from Animal Control?
Are animals licensed in Gilmer County?
What do I need to do to adopt a pet from the Gilmer County Animal Shelter?
What are my liabilities concerning property damage or personal injury regarding my pet?
My pet has died, how do I dispose of the body?
Where do I go to pay a fine for an Animal Control violation?
How long do you hold animals?

What do I do if a dog or cat bites or scratches me?

All bites or scratches, where the skin is punctured and bleeding occurs, are a possible rabies exposure.   The first concern is your immediate injury.   If the injury is severe, call 911 immediately for medical attention.   911 will notify Animal Control of the bite and an Animal Control Officer will respond.   If you are taken to the hospital, the Animal Control Officer may meet you at the hospital or contact you when you return home.   If the bite/scratch is not severe, wash the area with soap and water for ten minutes.   Contact your doctor for any further advice on treatment.   Your doctor may recommend a Tetanus shot. (May be required if you have not had one lately and you may also need antibiotics to control a risk of infection.)

 

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What happens after I file a bite report?

An Animal Control Officer will contact the owner of the animal and inform them of the bite/scratch if they are not already aware of the situation.   The owner will be advised of the quarantine required for a biting/scratching animal.   The owner can choose to quarantine their animal at Gilmer County Animal Control for the 10 day quarantine period or at a Vet Clinic.   The owner will be given a dead line for complying.   If the animal is quarantined at a Vet Clinic, Animal Control must be notified of what Vet Clinic and Animal Control will contact them to make sure they know the time period of the quarantine.  

 

The owner can request that their animal be housed at Gilmer County Animal Control’s Shelter.   The animal will be placed in a kennel in the isolation area for the 10 day quarantine period.   During that time, employees of Animal Control will care for the animal.   The owner can visit the animal, but first must contact Animal Control to arrange a day and time.   The owner can also request that the animal be put to sleep.   We will send the animal to the State Lab for rabies testing.   After the confinement period is over or

Animal Control has been notified of the rabies test results, the victim and the owner will be notified of the findings.   If the animal can not be immediately located, a safe trap will be set to try to catch the animal.

 

 

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What animals carry rabies?

Carnivores such as fox, skunk, raccoon, bobcat, coyote, and wolf are not legal to possess and could have the rabies virus without showing any signs.   These carnivores should not be handled even if an infant or injured.   Any rabies exposure to these animals should be reported to Animal Control so that a report can be made and the animal should be tested.   A safe trap can be set to attempt to capture the animal, if not already contained.

 

 

Livestock such as cattle, horses, mule’s donkeys, goats, swine and sheep are not likely to have rabies.   However, exposure to saliva from livestock infected with rabies is a concern.   If at the time of the exposure the animal is clinically ill with signs suggestive of rabies, then the treatment and testing must be weighed against the circumstances of exposure.   Involve your doctor and the Georgia Poison Control Center in the decision of treatment and testing.   Reports of livestock bites are not normally filed with Animal Control.

 

Bats that bite or scratch a person or domestic animal are of great concern regarding potential rabies.   Use care with protection to contain the bat and call Animal Control to have a report made and to pick up the bat for rabies testing.   If you locate a bat inside your home and are not sure if a bite or scratch has occurred, contact Animal Control for guidance before disposing of the bat.

 

Dogs, cats and ferrets should always be vaccinated against rabies.   Although these animals are not born with rabies as some carnivores are, they can be exposed and be of risk to humans.   Larger animals such as the dogs, cats and ferrets can survive an attack of a rabid animal and contract rabies.   The state requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets that bite or scratch be confined for a ten (10) day quarantine period.   The ten day period is necessary to observe the animal for any signs of rabies.

 

Small animals and rodents such as squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rats, mice, gophers, moles, rabbits and hares seldom survive an attack from a rabid animal and do not normally carry rabies.   Any bite or scratch from these type animals should be treated, but Animal Control does not take reports or confine these animals for rabies testing.

 

If you need additional information about a particular incident, contact Animal Control at 770-646-6622.

 

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What do I do if my dog or cat bites someone?

You will be required to make a decision about the future of your pet.   Confinement is a must under the Gilmer County Animal Control Ordinance.   This quarantine/confinement is necessary for 10 days.   You can choose to quarantine the animal at your vet or the Gilmer County Animal Control Shelter.   If you do not choose to keep the animal because of the bite, you can request that the animal be put to sleep and tested for rabies.   Either of these options is not pleasant, but because of the potential for a rabies exposure and/or liability on your part, you must make the decision that is best for your situation.   Animal Control does not normally adopt out animals that have bitten or scratched, but every situation is considered individually.

 

 

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What can I do about nuisance animals or wildlife?

Gilmer County Animal Control rents out safe traps to citizens of Gilmer County to assist in the in the trapping of nuisance animals and wildlife.   You may want to call the Animal Control Shelter Office at 770-646-6622 to make sure a trap is available.   Safe traps do not harm the animals.   The traps are rented for a 1 (one) week period.   The rental can be extended if the demand is not great at the time you need the trap.   The size of the trap depends on the size of the animal you are trapping.   The deposit for a cat trap is $25.00 and the deposit for a dog trap is $50.00.   The deposit is refunded upon non-damage to returned traps.

 

 

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Can I trap stray or wild animals in my yard?

It is lawful for you to use these traps to capture unwanted nuisance animals on your property as long as you can provide them with adequate food, water and shelter.   You are to provide this until they can be transported to the Gilmer County Animal Shelter.   Also, on domestic animals, it is important that any information you have about the owner of the animal be given to Animal Control personnel.

 

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How do I file a complaint about barking dogs?

You can call 770-646-6622 during business hours and/or leave a message and we will return your call the next business day to get more information.   Normally, we would ask that you talk with your neighbors/owners about the situation first, but if that does not work, we don’t mind giving them a warning.   If that does not work, you will have to come to the shelter and pick up a noise complaint packet that gives you instructions on what steps you should take next.

 

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What do I do if my animal is missing?

The best way to locate your missing animal is to come to the Animal Shelter during the shelter’s adoption hours to look for your pet.   Check the hours of operation on our phone message to find out when a good time will be to look for your pet.   Calling the shelter and asking if we have your pet is not always the best way to locate your pet.   The description of your pet may match several animals or may not be interpreted the same by the individual on the phone.  

 

When you come to the shelter, bring any pictures of the pet and any vet records.   This will help Animal Control employees in the identification of your pet if found in the shelter.   If your pet is not found in the shelter, an employee will assist you in filling out a lost report and how to continue your search for your lost pet.

 

The best way to ensure the safe return of your lost pet is for the pet to be wearing a collar with an I.D. Tag and/or Rabies tag or to be Micro Chipped.   If the animal can be identified in the field by the Animal Control Officer, it is likely that the pet will be returned to the owner and not taken to the Animal Shelter when at all possible.   When the animal is turned into the Animal Control shelter, the Animal Control personnel will also attempt to contact the owner with the information provided on the tag or micro chip as soon as possible.  

 

Please remember animals will sometimes lose their tags or have them removed by someone.   Even if your animal leaves home wearing a collar and tags, there is always a chance the collar may not be on the animal when it is picked up.   Well meaning citizens may take the collar off to get a better look at the tag and the animal may escape from them before they can put the collar back on.   Do not rely on the tag to be on the animal when it arrives at the Animal Control Shelter.

 

 

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What constitutes a “barking dog”?

It is a violation for a dog to bark in a manner that disturbs the peace of a neighborhood.   We are aware that dogs will bark when they see something or someone.   We look for a cause of the of the dog’s barking or whether the dog is barking for no reason.   The Gilmer County Ordinance addresses barking dogs in the Nuisance Section 3-55-D:   “Any animal that makes disturbing noises, including but not limited to, continued and repeated howling, barking, whining, or other utterances causing unreasonable annoyance, disturbance, or discomfort to neighbors or others in close proximity to the premises where the animal is kept or harbored;”

 

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What constitutes “cruelty to animal”?

Pet owners must provide proper food, water and shelter for animals at all times.   Animals also are considered to be cruelly treated if they are mistreated by acts of violence directed toward the animal.   Gilmer County Animal Control Ordinance Section 6 – A thru M addresses Cruelties and the details.   

 

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What do I have to do to reclaim my animal from Animal Control?

The owner must go to the Animal Control Shelter during normal hours to reclaim the pet.   You must bring an I.D. (Drivers license or GA I.D.) and proof of ownership of animal, such as Vet Records.

 

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Are animals licensed in Gilmer County?

Gilmer County does not license pets, but requires that all animals wear a current rabies tag and I.D. tag.

 

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What do I need to do to adopt a pet from the Gilmer County Animal Shelter?

Animals turned in by their owner for adoption and animals held past their stray period are available for adoption.   Those animals still in their stray period have a waiting list that you can sign up for and come back to adopt when the stray period has ended.

 

You must have an I.D. (Drivers license or GA I.D.) and the proper fees for adoption.  

 

You must sign a contract to have the animal spayed or neutered, if not already done so prior to the adoption.   This contract is a legal agreement and the failure to comply will result in court action.

 

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What are my liabilities concerning property damage or personal injury regarding my pet?  

Any pet you have that damages property or injures another animal or human could result in criminal and/or civil action against the owner.   If a citation is issued regarding an Animal Control violation, restitution can be demanded in addition to the court fine at the time of your hearing.   In addition, the citizen who is injured or has property damage can sue you in civil court.

 

 

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My pet has died, how do I dispose of the body?

County Animal Control Ordinance Section 7 - A thru D requires that you dispose of the animal body on your property within 12 hours of death and should be buried at least three feet below ground level.   Details are listed in this ordinance section.

 

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Where do I go to pay a fine for an Animal Control violation?

Some violations are payable prior to the court date.   Contact Gilmer County Magistrate Court at 770-646-2015 to check to see if the citation you have can be paid prior to the court date.

 

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How long do you hold animals?

Strays are held 3 working days (Animal Control working days) prior to the animals being determined to be property of Gilmer County – by County Ordinance Section 15-C.   After that time animals are held for an indefinite period of time.   If space is available and the animal is healthy and not aggressive, the animal will be held until such time it is adopted or the animal no longer qualifies for adoption.

 

Animals turned into the shelter by their owner and available for adoption will remain adoptable as long as we have space for the animal and the animal remains healthy and non-aggressive.   Since space is required to be available for strays when brought to the shelter, so unfortunately some animals are pulled to provide space even if healthy or non-aggressive.

 

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