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Sporting Dog Owners Angered over Kanawha County Ordinance


Kanawha County‘s ordinance banning the tethering of animals will not go into effect for another six months. The county commission wants to use that time to meet with hunting organizations and other groups to work on some of the issues they have with the already approved legislation.

Gary Knapp, President of the West Virginia Bear Hunters’ Association, was there Thursday evening to provide the hunter’s perspective on the issue that night. Knapp understands where the commission is coming from to a point.

"There are dogs I’m sure that never get off the leash or get any exercise. We don’t agree with those types of things. I don’t believe in being cruel to animals," says Knapp. "We have a large investment in our dogs. We take good care of them."

The law says dogs must be attended at all times when they are tethered. If they are left outside, they also must be left in 10′ by 10′ pens with adequate food, shelter, and water. Dogs also can’t be left out in extreme conditions.

However, Knapp fears the tethering ban will be the end of hunting with dogs in Kanawha County due to the requirement for pens and tethering. Knapp, a resident of Putnam County, is also worried that a law in Kanawha could mean it will spread to other areas. He cites the smoking ban as an example.

"Kanawha County has always been instrumental in new laws and new ideas. Just like the smoking ban. When ya’ll pass it up here, it didn’t take long for us to get it," says Knapp.

Another man opposed to the law feels it was rushed through the commission. That’s even with four public hearings over the course of the summer.

Charlie Nichols of Tyler Mountain said he didn’t even receive the final draft of the ordinance until last week after requesting it previously from the commission’s legal staff.

"Even the commission in there didn’t know exactly what was in the latest revision of the ordinance," says Nichols.

Nichols trains Britney bird dogs to hunt grouse, quail, and other fowl. He says the dog he purchased was raised in 4′ by 10′ pen with other pups and its mother which would violate the 10′ by 10′ rule.

However, there is a statute that allows an exemption for certain dogs at the humane officer’s discretion. Nichols says that statute is too open ended.

"If the humane officer’s had a bad day that day, are five beagles the correct size for that pen or if he’s feeling lenient to the land owner, is it three?" Nichols asks.

The ordinance only applies to the unincorporated areas of the county. A provision in the law allows municipalities to vote to adopt the tethering ban.


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