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Brooke County targets animal cruelty

WELLSBURG — Brooke County officials will be accepting comment from residents on a proposed animal cruelty ordinance for the county.

A public hearing on the Animal Cruelty and Canine Tethering Ordinance will be held at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Commission Room of the Brooke County Courthouse.

According to a copy of legislation proposed by the county, “This ordinance limits the tethering of dogs and prohibits leaving dogs outside in severe weather conditions. This ordinance also regulates outdoor pens and shelters for dogs.”

The proposal regulates the types of materials to be used as a tether, as well as how it is to be attached to the dog. Dogs are not to be tethered outside during extreme weather.

They also must be tethered in a way to prevent them from entering neighboring properties, public roads or sidewalks.

“Animals must be provided with adequate shelter to provide for their health and welfare,” the ordinance reads. “A shelter that protects the animal from inclement weather, wind, and direct rays of the sun, shall be provided and accessible to each dog. A shaded area must be provided that is sufficient to protect the animal from the direct rays of the sun. Examples of inadequate shelter include, but not limited to, drums of any kinds, cardboard or other disposable boxes, vehicles in any manner utilized.”

“The shelter shall include a moisture-proof and wind proof structure of suitable size to accommodate the dog and allow retention of body heat. It shall be made of durable material with a solid, moisture-proof floor or a floor raised at least 2 inches from the ground. The structure shall be provided with a sufficient quantity of suitable bedding material which would promote retention of body heat.”

Regulations also are provided for confinement areas.

Violations of the proposed ordinance, if passed, will fall under the jurisdiction of Brooke County Magistrate Court.

For a first offense, a warning will be issued and the owner given up to 72 hours to correct the violation.

Additional offenses would result in fines of between $300 and $2,000. For three, or more, offenses, the humane officer of law enforcement officer may “take into custody, upon either private or public property, an animal which clearly shows evidence of cruel or inhumane treatment as set forth in this ordinance.”

In addition, anyone convicted shall be ordered to pay the Brooke County Animal Shelter, or other animal care provider, “all reasonable expenses incurred for the care, treatment and boarding of any animal taken into custody pursuant to this ordinance.”

If the owner does not correct the violations, or cannot make these payments, then the animal shall become the property of the animal shelter, the ordinance states.

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