WELLSBURG - Residents on Greens Run in Wellsburg have turned to Brooke County commissioners for help after a pack of dogs owned by neighbors has reportedly created problems for them and left them concerned for other animals and the safety of area children.
William Walnoha, a resident of Greens Run, informed commissioners on Tuesday of an ongoing problem over the course of nearly two years with a pack of dogs. He said there are eight dogs owned by a neighbor that have turned on other dogs in the area and even the people.
Walnoha said there have been cats and other smaller dogs that have been torn to pieces by the pack of dogs. He said his granddaughter witnessed one of the dogs killing her cat recently and for fear of safety for the children, he must patrol the street before anyone, including his own dogs, go outside.
Just a few days ago, Walnoha said the dogs were after another animal, which he swerved to miss, and the pack of dogs ran him off the road into the creek near his home. He said someone driving can't keep their windows down because the animals will even attempt to attack anyone in a vehicle.
"I could get 30 people to come down here. We need to get something done about these dogs," he said.
Most days, according to Walnoha, the dogs are allowed to roam free. He said his main concern is for his own dogs as well as the children, who can't even go outside to play without fear of being chased by the dogs or worse.
Commissioner Marty Bartz asked the dog warden and Sheriff Richard Ferguson if something can be done. He said the protection of the people in the area must be a priority.
"Something needs to be done. It's a shame this has to happen in Brooke County," he said.
Ferguson said the owner of the dogs has been warned multiple times by the dog warden and there have been complaints filed with the sheriff's department. He said since no one has been hurt yet, the department will see to it that it doesn't happen, but officers must execute orders within the scope of the law.
According to the Brooke County leash law, "it is unlawful for the owner of any dog, or any person having custody or control of any dog to knowingly or negligently permit the dog to run at large in public places, upon public roads or upon lands or in buildings not owned by said owner or person having custody or control of the dog unless he or she shall have previously obtained permission of the owner or person or persons in charge of the said land or buildings or unless he or she shall be engaged with such dog in lawful methods of hunting as permitted in Chapter 20, Article 2, of the West Virginia Code."
"I have two deputies working on this case at this time, but this situation must be handled lawfully," Feguson said. "If we find that the owner has been neglecting the animals or violating the law, she'll be arrested."
Wilnoha said he would be within his rights to shoot the dogs if they came on his property and Ferguson agreed if the dogs came onto his property in an aggressive manner.
Wilnoha said he would like to see the county do something because even though they are a danger, he said he loves dogs and wouldn't want to hurt them. He said he has spoken with the dog warden multiple times and understands the problems facing the county.
"Whenever someone is called, they gather up the dogs and hide inside," Wilnoha added.
In an effort to see something done, Commissioner Tim Ennis made a motion to allow the dog warden to issue citations. He said perhaps allowing the dog warden to do so could give the county another avenue to use - such as the court system - which could prevent the owner from being able to own any dogs in Brooke County.