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Officials discuss exempting kennels from ordinance

February 18, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Commission discussed Thursday whether the owners of professional kennels should be exempt from complying with a barking dog ordinance.

Larry Light, acting chief of Berkeley County Animal Control, said officers with his department have been called for complaints of dogs barking at kennels and that he is not sure how such complaints should be handled.

"They tell me what to do and I'll enforce it," Light said of the commissioners, when reached after the meeting. "I just want to know, basically, where I stand."

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Light declined to say whether he believes kennels should be exempt from the ordinance, but did point out that for some people, owning a kennel is their livelihood.

Norwood Bentley, the county's attorney, said during the meeting that kennels can open just about anywhere because the county doesn't have a zoning law.

He also said there's an inherent problem with such businesses.

"The problem is you can't have a noiseless kennel," he said.

Commissioner Howard Strauss said an amendment to revise the barking dog ordinance should be proposed by kennel owners, not Animal Control.

A public hearing was scheduled for April 7. Commissioner Steve Teufel asked that notices of the public hearing be sent to all of the kennel owners in the county.

Teufel said he lives near a kennel and believes that its owners try to keep noise levels to a minimum.

Berkeley County adopted its barking dog ordinance on Oct. 1, 2003.

Those found guilty of allowing their dogs to bark are convicted of a misdemeanor charge and must pay a fine. First-time offenders are fined $100, while subsequent offenders face fines of $250.

The ordinance states that a dog is considered to be a nuisance if it "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. ..."

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