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Leash laws supported

May 04, 2001

Leash laws supported



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County commissioners found unanimous support Thursday night for passing an ordinance to clarify and strengthen the county's leash law.

The ordinance would declare a dog "under control of its owner" if the dog is either on the owner's property or on a leash when off the property.

The law currently considers a dog to be under control when it is on a neighbor's property and that neighbor has given permission for the animal to be on the property.

The proposed ordinance also requires a dog to have on its collar a license tag and a tag showing it had been vaccinated for the animal to be considered under control.

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Many speakers at the hearing were concerned about putting in teeth in animal control ordinances.

"If we're going to have a leash law, we should have one that is enforced," said Chief Animal Control Officer Ray Strine.

Several members of the audience agreed. Many of them said the county must try to control dogs who are running loose.

"I think we need the leash law in Berkeley County as soon as possible," said Jim Rickard of Hedgesville Road.

"It really is getting to be a problem," said Gene Paige, who lives near Hedgesville. "We need to put some teeth into it."

"We have received many calls from people saying 'we have dogs running loose,' " said Joann Overington, volunteer treasurer of the Berkeley County Human Society. "If we have some teeth in this law, we can really help the animal wardens."

Dave Schreck, who lives in a subdivision near Ridgeway, said he and his neighbors would trap loose dogs if the county would provide the traps. They could then call Strine and his officers to pick them up.

"We would help," Schreck said.

Several speakers told stories of wild dogs running loose, chasing deer and humans.

Commission President Howard Strauss said the issue came to his attention earlier this year after a public meeting at Marlow. He and Commissioner Robert Burkhart appeared ready to approve the ordinance Thursday night, but Commissioner John Wright said he wanted to take a week to think about it and hear any more public comment.

The ordinance will be voted on at the next commission meeting May 10.

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