FORSYTH — The Forsyth Board of Aldermen moved one step closer Monday night to creating a new vicious animal ordinance.
“There is a lot of contention about vicious dogs in not only Forsyth, but around the state and around the country,” said Forsyth Mayor Eddie Coleman. “Of course, on the TV and radio all you hear is them pick out one particular breed ... and in my opinion, the breed you hear about on the news is not the most vicious breed, but he gets all the press.”
Police Chief Jack Gates has been reviewing the city’s current animal ordinances, as well as working diligently on a new one to bring before the board.
“Our current vicious dog ordinance is very broad and really doesn’t do a lot, as far as defining vicious animals,” Gates said. “It does not cover impoundment whatsoever, and in a lot of ways, ties our hands as police officers.”
Gates said while the police department handles the bulk of the complaints, there is really nothing they can do.
“It comes down to city court to make a determination on a vicious dog,” he said. “The new ordinance would still require a judge’s decision ... but it does have definitions of a vicious animal.
“(The new ordinance) also states once an animal is determined to be vicious, it isn’t automatically put down and the owner may be able to keep the animal — but they’ll have to jump through a few hoops to do so.”
Some of those hoops would include the wearing of a bright orange collar, the displaying of dangerous animal signage on property and a liability insurance policy covering at least $100,000.
“I don’t think anything in there is unreasonable,” Gates said.
Fines for animal bites, as well as possible imprisonment for repeated violations were also discussed. The board agreed Gates should continue to work on the ordinance and have it prepared to present to the board in the near future.
In other news, Forsyth Superintendent of Schools Brent Blevins asked the board to vacate and relocate a portion of Panther Road when, or if, the new athletic improvements start.
“The field was shifted from an east-west field to a north-south field,” Blevins said. “With that shift, it puts our potential football stadium ... to a closer proximity to the parking lots we have for easier access, but the bleachers we have drawn in the existing plans would go right up next to the existing road by the Boys & Girls Club, which is a city road.”
Blevins asked the board to approve moving the road 50 feet to the east, then reconnecting it closer to the bus barn.
“We need support from the board to allow us, if that time comes” Blevins said. “It may not be this year or next year, it may be three years down the road, but we wanted to get this support stating the city would do this for us.”
Blevins said the improvements would be part of the $4 million bond issue approved by voters in April. The bond is to be used to finance a multi-purpose outdoor facility, a performing arts theater and storm shelter, as well security and technology upgrades.
“We don’t have football yet, but we are looking at our numbers and youth programs,” Blevins said. “We’d start at a junior high and work our way up to a high school program, if that was to take place.”
The board approved the relocation and rebuilding of the road at a future time, contingent on gaining a 50 foot right-of-way.