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Frequently Asked Questions
Animal Control Ordinance changes
Animal Welfare Fees
Lost/missing pet
Stray/Wild Animals

  Animal Control Ordinance changes

What changes were made to the Animal Control Ordinance?
The Animal Control Ordinance changes approved by the Board of Commissioners in 2015 relate to tethering, cruelty, neglect, boarding, and the keeping of livestock. The majority of the changes were made in order to comply with the Responsible Dog Owners Act that became state law in 2012. A summary of the specific ordinance changes is listed below:

  • Certain definitions were updated in accordance with the Responsible Dog Owners Act.
  • 10-29: (c)(1-4) Removes the one-hour exception for tethering ordinance, requiring the owner to be outside with the animal at all times and adds that the animal must be visible to the owner. Prohibits single-point tethering. Tethering an animal by a trolley system is the only approved form of tether. Only one animal may be attached to each trolley system.
  • 10-34: Changes adoption hold times for animals of unknown ownership from five days to three days. Also adds provision for any eligible litters to be available for adoption/rescue immediately. Section (a) also broken up into (a) and (b) to make the ordinance more clear.
  • 10-35: Title changed to Reclaim of Impounded Animals. Clarifies the processes followed by Animal Control if an owner is known. Also adds provision for mandatory microchipping of impounded cats and dogs. Fees will be paid at the time of reclaim.
  • 10-36: Corrects the time an animal is eligible for euthanization if an owner is known. Letter (a) adds an additional day before an animal is eligible for euthanization if ownership is not known. Letter (b) changed “destroyed” to “euthanized.” Letter (c) deleted and replaced with wording that would allow Animal Control Officers to euthanize animals in the absence of an available veterinarian and after consulting with a superior on duty when such action is taken to control the spread of disease or to eliminate any further pain and/or suffering of the animal.
  • 10-37: Deleted in its entirety to comply with the Responsible Dog Owners Act. Left sections as “Reserved.”
  • 10-39(d): Added a provision that allows persons who accept impounded livestock to sell or slaughter the animal(s) for consumption. Added that livestock may not be slaughtered or consumed if the animal(s) was captured through the use of tranquilizers or darting drugs.
  • 10-41: Verbiage change – deleted “animal or” to make the wording correct.
  • 10-42: Changed the title of section to “Rabies Vaccination Certificates.” Spelling correction in paragraph that changed posses to possess.
  • 10-45: Added ferrets to all sections to comply with the Georgia Rabies Control Manual.
  • 10-51: Letter (b)(1) deleted “intruder” and added a longer explanation. Letter (b)(4) added to allow one statement for barking with additional evidence.
  • 10-56: Change recommended by the Animal Advisory Council. Added “selling/giving away of animals” to the section.
  • Article II: Added and replaced entire section with the new Responsible Dog Ownership Act language to follow state law. Most of this section is completely new.

When did the revised ordinance become effective?
The new Gwinnett County Animal Control Ordinance was adopted by commissioners in March 2015 and then amended to revise the section on tethering in June of that same year. The revised ordinance became effective on July 1, 2015.

Where can I find a copy of the revised ordinance?
Click here to view the updated animal control ordinance.

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 Animal Welfare Fees

Adoption fees
    County employees
    Seniors (55 and over)
$90 ($30 adoption fee + $60 veterinarian fee)
$60 veterinarian fee (adoption fee waived once per year)
$30 veterinarian fee (adoption fee waived and vet fee reduced)
Impound/reclaim fee $35 per animal plus boarding fees, if applicable
Daily boarding fee – domestic animal $10 per animal, per day
Daily boarding fee – livestock $15 per animal, per day
Trailer fee $35 per use
Rabies quarantine $200 per animal plus impound fee of $35, if applicable
Dart fee $50 per animal
Owner give-up fee $25 per animal (please visit the Pet Care section for more information)
Deceased animal disposal $7 per animal (domesticated animals only)

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What happens after I file a bite report?
An Animal Welfare officer will inform the owners, if they are not already aware, about the required quarantine, the available options, and the deadline for compliance. The owners will be required to quarantine their pet at an approved veterinarian facility for 10 days from the date of the bite. If the owners request that we put the animal to sleep, we'll send the animal's body to the state lab for rabies testing. If the owner chooses to have their veterinarian euthanize the pet, the veterinarian can prepare the animal as a specimen and we will arrange for it to be tested for rabies. We notify both the victim and the owner after the confinement period is over or after we receive the rabies test results. If we can't immediately locate the animal, we will set Have-a-Heart traps.

What should I do if my dog or cat bites someone?
You'll have to make a decision about your pet's future. Confinement for 10 days is required by law. You can quarantine the animal at your vet. If you choose not to keep the animal, you can request that we put it to sleep and test for rabies. The options aren't pleasant, but the potential for rabies exposure is serious and you could be legally liable. You must make the best decision for your situation. We don't normally put animals that have bitten or scratched up for adoption, but we do consider every situation individually.

What is my liability for property damage or personal injury by my pet?
If your pet damages property or injures another animal or a human, you can be subject to criminal and/or civil legal action. If you receive a citation for violating a law, you may have to pay restitution and a court fine at the time of your hearing.

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How do I file a complaint about stray animals or animal ordinance violations?
To file a complaint call our call center at 770.513.5700 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How do I file a complaint about barking dogs?
To file a complaint call our office at 770.339.3200 (Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:00pm).

I found an orange card from Animal Welfare on my door. What does it mean?
The card notifies you that a complaint has been issued against your residence for a possible violation of the Animal Control Ordinance. You can call Animal Control for details of the complaint. We're not required to give warnings before issuing a citation, but whenever possible we try to offer ways to correct a violation before any court action occurs.

Why is Animal Control asking me about nuisance animals in my neighborhood?
If we don't actually witness a violation, we ask for neighborhood help to document problems. Sometimes a neighbor is the only witness for a court case.

What is my liability for property damage or personal injury by my pet?
If your pet damages property or injures another animal or a human, you can be subject to criminal and/or civil legal action. If you receive a citation for violating a law, you may have to pay restitution and a court fine at the time of your hearing.

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What constitutes cruelty to animals?
Not providing proper food, water, and shelter at all times constitutes neglect. Animal cruelty applies to acts of violence. For details, see Animal Control Ordinance Section 10-50.

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Where do I pay a fine for an animal violation?
Contact Recorder's Court (770.619.6100) to see if you can pay your citation prior to the court date. If the citation specifies a city court, call that court for information.

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What are the new rules on animal holding?
The updated ordinance reduced the hold times for adoption of any animal of unknown ownership from five days to three days. The updated ordinance also adds provision for any eligible litters to be available for adoption/rescue immediately.

Can I surrender my animal to Animal Control for adoption?
Due to limited cage and pen space owner surrender pets must meet the following criteria to be accepted by the shelter and offered for adoption:

  1. The pet must be current on vaccinations administered at least two weeks prior to when it is brought to the shelter (must have paperwork from a licensed veterinarian)
  2. The pet cannot have any health issues
  3. The pet must pass a temperament evaluation by an animal control officer

If the pet meets the above criteria and pen/cage space is available, the animal may be taken in by the shelter. This does not guarantee that the pet will be accepted. It could be euthanized at any time after being taken in by the shelter.

Owners should only consider surrendering their pet to the shelter as a last resort. Shelter personnel can provide information on alternative options for owners to rehome their pets (rescue groups, humane societies, veterinarians).

My pet died. How should I dispose of the body?
Animal Control officers can only remove dead animals from public property. Any dog, cat, or small animal carcass to be picked up for disposal by Animal Control from a private residence must be contained in a plastic bag and placed in the right-of-way of the road or street. Whenever possible, animals should be brought to the animal shelter for disposal. On private property, the animal or property owner or possessor must dispose of a carcass in accordance with state House Bill no., 225 Act no. 557, or you may bring the animal’s body to the shelter for disposal for a $7 fee.

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I own livestock. Is there new information that I should know about?
The revised ordinance allows a 21-day hold for impounded livestock at the Gwinnett Animal Welfare and Enforcement Center. If the owner does not claim impounded livestock during that period, the animals may be given to persons who are willing to accept them, at the Police Department’s discretion. Any livestock that was captured by the use of tranquilizers or darting drugs are not allowed to be slaughtered for consumption.

For more information on handling livestock, please refer to Section 10-39 of the Animal Control Ordinance.

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 Lost/Missing Pets

Can you help me locate my missing animal?
Yes. First, come to the Animal Shelter at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville during shelter hours to look for your pet. Bring pictures and vet records to help with identification if we find it. If it's not at the shelter, we'll help you file a lost report and offer advice on how to continue your search. A collar with a rabies tag, an ID tag, or a microchip can help ensure the safe return of your lost pet. If we can identify your pet, we'll return it directly to you rather than taking it to the shelter. For animals turned in at the shelter, we will contact the owner as soon as possible. Animal tags are often lost or removed. Well-meaning neighbors may take the collar off to get a better look at the tag and then the animal escapes them. So even if your pet leaves home wearing a collar and tags, there is a chance they'll be gone when it is picked up.

All lost and found reporting for the Animal Shelter is handled online at Please visit that website for further instructions.

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 Stray/Wild Animals

Can I trap stray animals in my yard?
Yes, it is legal to capture unwanted nuisance domestic animals on your property if you provide them with adequate food, water, and shelter until they can be transported to Animal Control. It is important to give Animal Control any information you have about the owner.

Can I trap wild animals in my yard?
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources website has options for handling nuisance wildlife (including a list of professional nuisance trappers), fact sheets, wildlife rehabilitator information, and tips on managing land for wildlife, guides on rabies, and much more at

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What specific changes were made to the Animal Ordinance regarding tethering?
Under the revised ordinance, the owner or adult custodian of the animal must be outside with the animal at all times and the animal must be visible to the owner. This removes the one-hour exception in the previous ordinance.

How do I properly tether my dog?

  • Tethering an animal by a trolley system is the only approved form or tether; single-point tethering is prohibited.
  • Only one animal may be attached to each trolley system.
  • Tethers must be made of a substance that cannot be chewed by the animal, must not weigh more than 5 percent of the animal’s body weight, and must have a swivel on each end.
  • The trolley system must be at least 10 feet long and mounted no more than seven feet above ground level.
  • Any cable attached to the trolley system and attached to an animal must be at least 10 feet in length and shall not allow the animal to come within five feet of the edge of the property line of the property upon which such animal is tethered.
  • The length of the tether from the trolley system to the animal’s collar should allow access to the maximum available exercise area and allow the animal free access to food, water, and shelter.
  • The animal must be attached to the tether by a properly fitted harness or collar with enough room between the collar and the animal’s throat (two fingers should be able to fit between the collar and the animal).Choke and pinch collars are prohibited for tethering an animal.
  • The trolley system must be a sufficient distance from any other objects or animals to prevent injury to the animal.
  • Additional provisions can be found in Section 10-29 of the Animal Control Ordinance.

Do I have to be at home while my animal is outside?
Under the revised ordinance, the owner or custodian must be with a tethered animal at all times and the animal must be in sight of the owner.

Can I tie my animal to a tree or a pole?
No, single-point tethering is prohibited. Animals must be attached to a trolley system.

How many animals can be attached to a trolley system?
Only one animal can be attached to a trolley system at a time.

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What animals carry rabies?
Dogs, cats, and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies because they are large enough to survive an attack by a rabid animal, contract rabies, and pose a risk to humans. State law requires all dogs, cats, and ferrets that have bitten or scratched a person to be confined for a 10-day quarantine period to observe the animal for signs of rabies.

Bats that bite or scratch a person or domestic animal are of great concern for potential rabies. Use care and protection to contain the bat and call Animal Control to pick it up for rabies testing. Call us for guidance if you find a bat inside your home.

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 therefore don't normally carry rabies. A bite or scratch from these animals should be treated, but we don't take reports or confine these animals for rabies testing.

Carnivores such as raccoons, foxes, skunks, bobcats, coyotes, and wolves are not legal to possess and can have rabies virus without any visible signs. Do not handle these carnivores, and report any possible rabies exposure. We can set Have-a-Heart traps to capture the animal, if necessary.

Livestock such as cattle, horses, mules, donkeys, goats, swine, and sheep are not likely to have rabies, but exposure to saliva from infected livestock is a concern. If the animal is clinically ill with signs suggestive of rabies, treatment and testing must be weighed against the circumstances of exposure. Involve your doctor and the Georgia Poison Control Center in the decision. We don't normally take reports of livestock bites. For more information, call the Animal Control bite officer at 770.339.3200.

Does Gwinnett County license animals?
No, Gwinnett does not license pets but does require a current rabies tag.

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