Pocahontas Commission Discusses Dog Ordinance And Animal Shelter Limits
Marlinton,WV – Dogs were once again the topic of discussion for the Pocahontas County Commissioners on Tuesday, starting with a draft dog ordinance presented by Commissioner David Fleming. The ordinance addresses dogs running at large, and those who bark excessively. It proposes possible seizure of dogs and fines up to $ 250.00. It also includes fines and or seizure of dogs found without tags indicating a current dog license and rabies vaccination.
Fleming was prompted to come up with the ordinance after receiving complaints from county residents, some of which attended Tuesday’s meeting. He also heard from those who raise hunting dogs and aren’t assured by his pledge that the new ordinance wouldn’t apply to their animals. Ernie Cobb says they can’t retrieve their dogs from private land without the landowners’ permission.
“If the landowner gives you permission, you’re okay” says Cobb. “But if their treed or whatever beside [the homeowners] house, and continue to bark and bark, which they will [because] that’s the way they’re trained, they’re going to bark until they’re retrieved off of there.”
County resident Eugene Walker has been raising hunting dogs for 55 years. His hounds are in demand across the country and some are worth upwards of $10,000 to 20,000 each. He says he has good reason to leave his dogs rabies tags in a drawer rather than put them on his dogs.
“I’ve had over the years probably ten dogs get caught trying to get through a fence after a raccoon and that “S” hook gets caught in the fence, and there’s your dog hanging by the neck” says Walker. “So I don’t put them on my dogs. But they are vaccinated; I do have them there at the kennel for anyone who wants to inspect them.”
Jay Miller suggests it might be better to address these issues via citations rather than seizing dogs. Sheriff David Jonese agrees, saying the intent is to change owner behavior, not seize dogs. Fleming thanked everyone for their input and asked that this issue be added to the agenda for the next Commission meeting.
A dog fight of a different sort came up when the Commission began reviewing a proposed Memorandum of Understanding with the Pocahontas County SPCA concerning guidelines for the county animal shelter. The SPCA signed a tentative contract to oversee animal control in the county.
The Commissioners questioned several parts of the agreement, but by far the biggest sticking point is who pays for animal care and feeding when the shelter exceeds the set limits of 25 dogs and 20 cats. The SPCA wants to charge the county $6.00 per animal per day over those limits. Commissioner Reta Griffith says in a worst case scenario; that could mean almost $44,000 in additional expenses for the county.
Commissioner Griffith offered to try to revise the document to make more palatable for all involved. With this in mind, the Commission agreed to extend the SPCA contract until the close of business on September 7th. If they and the SPCA can’t come to an agreement by then, the contract may have to be rebid.
The Commission also gave Sheriff Jonese permission to find another law enforcement home for Dutch, the six year old K9 officer in the sheriffs dept. Jonese says the German Shepherd can only work for about another year, not enough time for a deputy to train to work with the dog.