DogsNorth Fulton cities have taken over services previously provided by Fulton County, and the next one to go may be the dogcatcher.

The creation of Sandy Springs and Johns Creek gave those communities local control over police and fire departments. When the cities created their own 911 dispatch system, ChatComm, and began work on their own public safety radio system, they claimed they could provide those services more effectively than the county.

But can north Fulton cities really do a better job of catching dogs than Fulton County? It’s possible, some Sandy Springs leaders say.

“I think it will be a wonderful thing to invest the funds, $4 million, and have all the north Fulton cities share in it and make it a first-class operation for the animals and for adoptions,” City Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny said.

During its June 18 meeting, Sandy Springs City Council renewed its contract with Fulton County for animal control services. The contract increased to $87,000, up from $71,000 approved two years ago, when the city last renewed its intergovernmental agreement with the county and other Fulton County cities. Part of the increase will go to improve facilities and vehicles.

City Manager John McDonough told the council the increase “seems reasonable.”

McEnerny proposed the north Fulton cities might provide a better service than the county, and asked staff to look into it. Mayor Eva Galambos said she’d mention it at the next meeting of north Fulton mayors. Councilwoman Dianne Fries also liked the idea.

The council asked city staff to study it.

Councilman John Paulson said he’d be interested to see what the staff learns about the viability of the suggestion. “I would like to have an assessment of the level of service that’s currently being provided, and based on that, it might be worth taking look at, sure,” he said.

Councilman Tibby DeJulio said there’s not anything wrong with what Fulton County is doing, in and of itself. “I think the question is can we do better for the citizens and the animals, too, than what we’re currently doing,” he said.

And Councilman Gabe Sterling agreed. “I’m always in favor of trying to find ways to do things at a lower cost and higher quality, and if that can be done, I’m more than happy to look into it,” Sterling said.

McEnerny said having a shelter closer to home would make it more convenient for residents who go there looking for lost pets.

According to cost estimates in the intergovernmental agreement, the city of Atlanta generates nearly 60 percent of the calls to Fulton County animal control. The total cost for all the cities is $3.3 million.

The agreement, which is based on prior year data, showed the north Fulton cities – Alpharetta, Milton, Sandy Springs, Roswell and Johns Creek – called animal control 2,792 times in 2012. Sandy Springs and Roswell generate the most calls, between 700 and 800 each year.

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