A follow up about chickens and dogs

I already made a lengthy post about the irony of existing ordinances in Savannah and Chatham County: No charges if pit bulls run loose, but backyard chickens have to go.

As I suspected then, the Chatham County Commission has moved quickly to accept in principle the idea of an ordinance to allow residents to keep chickens (probably only hens). From today’s article by Eric Curl in the Savannah Morning News:

The Chatham County Commission agreed Friday to have an ordinance written up that allows the practice.

Commissioner Patrick Farrell, who brought up the matter, said he wants to put unincorporated residents on equal footing as residents of the city of Savannah, which allows a limited number of chickens at homes.

The Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission will now work on aligning the ordinance with Savannah’s and bring it back to commissioners for consideration. The commission will also consider how to address related practices such as the raising of horses and bees, said MPC Executive Director Tom Thomson.

I’m a little concerned that other animals are going to be included in the draft ordinance. It’s natural for zoning officials to want to make things as simple and clear as possible, but chickens have little to do with bees in terms of safety, noise, appropriate numbers, the need for setbacks, etc. Still, I have a lot of confidence in the MPC staff to work that out.

And it looks like the city of Savannah might change its ordinance regarding dangerous dogs in the wake of the horrible mauling of 7-year old Javon Roberson. From “Eastside neighbors want tougher dog ordinance” in yesterday’s Savannah Morning News:

The ordinance already requires a dog that bites or chases a human be micro-chipped, properly penned and muzzled if out on the street. Owners must carry $25,000 in insurance, which is higher than state law requires.

City officials are looking at raising the insurance minimum, and, Boulware said, also will consider an ordinance that allows animal control officials to deem a dog vicious if it attacks another animal or is so aggressive even while fenced that an adjoining neighbor is in fear of its escape. Once the ordinance is crafted, it would be brought to City Council for approval.

Again, I’m not sure if we’ll get the details right, and the idea as stated here is pretty tame compared to what some other cities have done, especially in the case of pit bulls. But it seems like a step in the right direction.

Apparently, residents at the meeting expressed shock to hear that there are only five positions — and only three of those filled — for Animal Control officers to serve the entire county. That needs to change, and there always need to be officers on duty at night.