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Jefferson Co. OKs leash law

July 12, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County officials have passed a leash law, but a controversial idea of passing a law controlling barking dogs appears to be on hold, a Jefferson County Commissioner said.

After receiving complaints from some people about barking dogs, the Jefferson County Commission drafted a proposed law in an attempt to curb the problem.

Under a proposed barking dog law, a dog could be considered a "public nuisance" if two or more people living in different houses complain about the animal.

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If the dog owner does not control the barking, the person could be found guilty of a misdemeanor and could be fined $50 to $500, the proposal states.

At a public hearing in May, local residents said the commissioners were going to "extremes" with the barking dog law. Residents said it is natural for a dog to bark, especially if the animal senses trouble around its property.

It appears the commissioners have backed off on the idea of passing a barking dog law, Commissioner James G. Knode said.

In addition to the complaints about the law, the commissioners were wrestling with difficult elements of the proposed ordinance, such as what constitutes loud or repetitive barking, Knode said.

"The technicalities were a lot harder to overcome on that one," Knode said Sunday.

Last Thursday, the commissioners passed a leash law that was under consideration for several months.

The commissioners began considering the law after receiving complaints about roaming dogs.

The leash law states that a dog cannot be allowed to leave its property, and must be restrained by a leash or fence or be under the direct control of its owner, Knode said.

If a dog goes off its property, it can be seized by county animal control officials under the new law.

Dogs not picked up by their owners within five days shall become the property of the county and destroyed by the animal control officer if no responsible new owner can be found, the law says.

Commissioner Jane Tabb said the leash law goes into effect Sept. 1.

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