Pocahontas Commissioners to Examine Dog Ordinance Enforcement Resources
Alice Arbuckle was on the agenda for the September 17th Pocahontas County Commission meeting to discuss the Dog Ordinance and to ask the Commissioners to consider revising the ordinance using the Kanawha County Animal Cruelty & Canine Tethering Ordinance as a model for those revisions.
The meeting was packed with people who filled the Commission’s meeting room and spilled out into the hallway. Twenty-three citizens signed up to address the Commissioners about this dog ordinance issue. Almost all of them were adamantly opposed to revising the current dog ordinance. Only Laurie Cameron and Ken Springer, a member of the Humane Society, spoke out to support Arbuckle’s concerns.
Arbuckle laid out an impassioned case to the Commissioners. She said she was speaking as “an advocate for all the dogs in Pocahontas County.” She said that if the Commissioners use the Kanawha Ordinance as a model to revise the current ordinance, it will empower the animal control officer. Although she acknowledged there are many well cared for dogs in the County, she said she has observed many dogs “living a life of quiet desperation, forced to endure inhumane conditions 24/7.” And that she wants to see inhumane tethering of dogs made illegal as it is in Kanawha County.
Many of those who spoke out against revising the Dog Ordinance said they may keep their dogs tethered, but they love and take care of their dogs, ensuring they have shelter from the elements and have adequate food and water. One person said that their dogs may overturn their food bowls, but only after they have eaten their food. Many of those in opposition to any revisions, said that changing the ordinance is not needed since the type of cruel treatment described by Arbuckle is already prohibited by the current ordinance.
Commission President David McLaughlin pointed out that everybody in the room opposes the cruelty to animals that Arbuckle has described but that the animal enforcement officer may not have enough resources to properly enforce the law. The Commissioners passed a motion to look into the ordinance. So, the Commissioners passed a motion to look at the ordinance and to invite the animal enforcement officer to a future meeting to ask what additional resources he needs to better enforce the ordinance.
A careful reading of the current dog ordinance reveals that while it addresses dogs running loose; dogs not vaccinated against rabies or licensed; failure of dog owners to clean up their dog’s waste on public property or on other people’s property; and dogs who excessively bark, it does not mention dogs being kept tethered in inhumane conditions. Although there may be other State Statutes prohibiting animal cruelty.
In other items at the meeting.
Cara Rose, the Executive Director of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) delivered the Bureau’s annual report and financial review. She said that the Hotel Occupancy Tax has collected 2.2 million dollars, the most ever.
Rose also said the CVB will be hosting the WV Tourism Conference next week at Snowshoe. She said Pocahontas County has only hosted it three times in the past 30 years, and it is a chance showcase the County to other WV counties.
Rose reported that two of the seven new entrance signs have been placed along the roads at the county lines, and they look great.
She also provided an update on the Bicentennial, including the decision to have local artists paint large sculptures of eight trout in seven communities and one to be placed probably at the Courthouse on behalf of the County Commission. These will honor each of the eight rivers that begin in Pocahontas County. The Commissioners agreed to have their trout represent the Elk River.
Additionally, the Commissioners took the following actions.
- Passed a resolution designating the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation as being the lead economic development organization for the county in 2019-2020.
- Authorized the County Sheriff to post a “weapons” notice at the Courthouse