Pocahontas Hunters Growl As Commission Adopts First Reading Of Dog Ordinance
Marlinton, WV – Several Pocahontas County hunters are ready to howl after the Pocahontas County Commission adopted the first reading of a county dog ordinance. The ordinance specifically addresses dogs barking excessively or running at large. It also specifies that the regulations don’t apply to dogs used for hunting or farming – but that apparently is not enough to satisfy some hunters in the county.
Minnihaha Springs resident Rick McCarty asked what constitutes a dog running at large.
“What do you consider running at large?” asks McCarty. “My dogs [are] rabbit dogs; I turn rabbits loose there [on his property] 20 rabbits, for my dogs to run. That’s what my dogs do; I don’t consider that running at large.”
But that may be a matter of interpretation, as some of McCarty’s neighbors have complained about his dogs running loose. Jamie Walker asked what happens to the dogs when they are picked up following a formal complaint.
“You’ve got people in this county whose dogs is worth more that some peoples’ vehicles [are]” says Walker. “You come and get a dog over one complaint; who’s gonna take care of that dog and when something happens to it at that point who’s going to pay the expense of what the dogs worth? I had a guy offer me $10,000.00 for one of my dogs and I turned it down.”
“You come and get him and something happens to him, somebody’s going to come [up] with 10 grand.”
Commission President Martin Saffer says residents shouldn’t assume that a dog will automatically be picked up after a complaint is filed. He says the ordinance is intended to help neighbors work out disagreements amongst themselves.
“If you and your neighbor have not reached a understanding, the next step would be the Sheriff, if he felt the complaint was meritorious, would go out and speak with you about it” says Saffer. “If that doesn’t work and the matter continues, then the Sheriff could take further action and could actually issue some sort of complaint. We’re a long way from impounding this dog.”
Walker fears that neighbors’ complaints could have more to do with personal animosity rather than a problem with barking dogs. But Pocahontas County Sheriff David Jonese says his deputies will use a measure of common sense when addressing these complaints.
“We didn’t fall off that truck yesterday” says the Sheriff. “I don’t want to go around collecting everyone’s dog every time we get a phone call. We want to make it so the communities and the neighbors can solve their own issues because right now if they don’t want to deal with it, they don’t have to deal with it.”
Sheriff Jonese is also aware of the personal element behind a complaint.
“It’s always personal” he says “if someone says “your dogs barking” whether it is or not the other person’s going to take offense and say “no it’s not.” So the first step is get the people talking and quit taking sides just because someone pointed out something against them. The problem we have is that we have that situation; they call us and we in law enforcement have no recourse to do anything.”
Commissioner David Fleming, the author of the proposed ordinance, read through the document for the first official reading, one of three public readings required for passage. A motion to adopt the first reading was passed on a 2 to 1 vote with Commissioner Reta Griffith opposed.
Fleming says that he will put the ordinance on the Commission’s website. He’s also open to the idea of printing the ordinance in the local paper and invites public input.