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Barking dog law adopted in Berkeley County

August 29, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - When it comes to barking dogs, the law in Berkeley County, W.Va., will not discriminate between pit bulls and Pomeranians.

If it barks, its owner is going to pay.

After debating what the maximum fine should be for people who allow their dogs to bark and bother neighbors, the Berkeley County Commission settled on $250 and then adopted a barking dog ordinance Thursday morning.

It will take effect Oct. 1.

All three of the county's commissioners agreed first-time offenders should be fined $100.

Commissioner Steve Teufel suggested that subsequent offenders face a fine of $100 to $500.

"I think 500's very heavy," said Commissioner John Wright. He said he would agree to the ordinance if the maximum fine was lowered to $250.

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Acquiescing, Teufel amended his original motion and it passed by a 3-0 vote.

The commissioners delayed making the ordinance immediately effective because a new chief animal control warden has not been hired. The chief animal warden will be the one who interprets the law for his or her employees.

If a person has more than one dog barking, he could receive one broad citation or one for each dog, said Norwood Bentley, the county's legal counsel. The officer who investigates the complaint will make that decision, he said.

The commissioners put together the barking dog ordinance, along with an ordinance for vicious dogs that took effect last October, by using a bill that gives counties the authority to control what they deem nuisances.

The official language of the barking dog ordinance is: "The keeping or harboring of any dog within the County of Berkeley which dog, by frequent and habitual barking, howling or yelping, creates unreasonably loud and disturbing noises of such character, intensity and duration as to disturb the peace, quiet and good order of the neighborhood or such resident or business neighbors as may be in close proximity to such dog, is prohibited.

"Any person who shall allow such dog to habitually remain, be lodged or fed within or on any property, dwelling, building, yard or enclosure, which he/she occupies or owns, shall be considered as harboring such dog and shall be guilty of a misdemeanor."

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