Limited dog chaining ordinance requested

August 21, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- More than 40 people attended the Morgan County Commission meeting on Thursday to support an ordinance that would limit the chaining and tethering of dogs. 

Local resident Gary Brock, who leads Unchain Morgan County, organized support in the county. He said he has received more than 600 signatures on a petition supporting the ordinance. 

Kelvin Langley, treasurer of the Morgan County Humane Society, said the ordinance is not an anti-tethering ordinance, but is meant to limit tethering.

"It's an ordinance between what is reasonable and what is outrageous," he said. 

Dr. Jane Doyle, a local veterinarian, said studies show keeping dogs chained "24-7" can be harmful. If dogs live on a chain, they are unhappy, and more likely to bite and injure people, she said.


Adam Goldfarb of the Humane Society of the U.S. in Washington, D.C., said studies show that chained dogs become dangerous and are three times more likely to bite. 

Terry Rutter, president and founder of Justice for Dogs in Frederick, Md., gave a PowerPoint presentation showing mistreated dogs that were chained.  

She said West Virginia does not yet have an ordinance, but Kanawha County, W.Va., is considering one.

Hampshire County (W.Va.) Animal Control Officer Debra Shamburg said "we're stuck at the same level as Morgan County," meaning if a chained animal is provided food, shelter and water, no law is broken. 

"I would appreciate any ideas," Shamburg said. 

Morgan County Commission President Brenda J. Hutchinson said she wants to move forward with an ordinance using the West Virginia cruelty law. 

"We need to define what the law says," Brock said.  

"We can define what cruelty is" in Morgan County, Langley said.  

Hutchinson said the matter will be on the Sept. 24 commission meeting agenda for more discussion.

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