Originally created 09/30/97

A fight to the last dog



GROVETOWN - If Randy Newman has his way, Public Safety officers may be doing more than fighting fires and enforcing the law.

They could be counting dogs.

Citing an obscure ordinance charging the police chief with the dubious duty of enumerating the city's dogs and owners, Mr. Newman recently made a demand for the tally to begin.

"The dog census is there, it needs to be enforced," Mr. Newman said.

Angered when Grovetown officials ordered a political sign removed from in front of his business because it violated a city sign ordinance, Mr. Newman - Public Safety Chief John Tomberlin's most vocal critic - shot back with his own bureaucratic bombshell.

Mr. Newman said the sign ordinance citation - since rescinded - was political, based on his opposing council members known to support Chief Tomberlin.

"If they're going to enforce one ordinance, they need to enforce all of them," he said.

While the dog ordinance has existed since 1989, no current city officials claim any knowledge of the ordinance or could produce any records. Mayor Dennis Trudeau, the only current city official who was in government in 1989, said he remembers a dangerous-dog law, but has no recollection of the dog census being passed.

"I'll be honest with you, that's never happened," said Shirley Beasley, Grovetown city clerk.

Although Chief Tomberlin was baffled by the existence of the dog census law, he wasn't surprised at who brought up the issue.

"That sounds like something Randy would come up with," he said. "I don't know how in the world you could do that to begin with."