Stray dogs in Chesapeake have some residents frustrated

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Stray dogs have become an issue in the Village of Chesapeake and residents are questioning why Lawrence County Animal Control isn’t picking them up.

At Chesapeake’s Council meeting in June, several people complained about the Lawrence County dog warden not responding to residents of the village about the dog problem.

“There were residents complaining about the dogs and when they called the dog warden, he said they weren’t allowed to come into the Village of Chesapeake,” said Peggy Houston, clerk-treasurer for Chesapeake.

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According to a letter to the commissioners from the village Council, residents stated they have been told that the dog warden cannot come into the village and to contact the police department.

“I don’t know why they don’t come here,” said Belinda Worrell, bonds clerk in the mayor’s court.

Although she hasn’t had a complaint for a while, she said at one time animal control told her that if the village would take the dogs to the animal shelter, they would take them.

“Each village has their own animal control ordinances,” said Bill Click, Lawrence County dog warden. “The county dog warden has no authority to enforce the village’s ordinances.”

County dog wardens in Ohio are responsible to enforce the licensing laws — registration laws that most people know as dog tags, he said.

“The state of Ohio wants every dog registered in the county in which they live,” Click said. “While the county dog warden is enforcing the laws, we have the authority to pick up a dog running at large that does not have a license and impound it. I’m going to impound a dog for not being licensed, not for running at large. If I can locate that owner, I’ll let them license that dog and keep it.”

According to Ohio Revised Code 955.221, a board of county commissioners may adopt and enforce resolutions to control dogs within the unincorporated areas of the county that are not otherwise in conflict with any other provision of the revised code.

Further, it states that a municipal corporation may adopt and enforce ordinances to control dogs within the municipal corporation that are not otherwise in conflict with any other provision of the revised code.

“That is the reason Ironton has their own dog warden,” Click said. “The Coal Grove Police Department brings dogs to us. We’re assuming the expense of housing that dog for them and taking care of the dogs. That’s not cheap.”

He said that one mayor went to his office angry because he wouldn’t pick up dogs running loose in his town. After showing the mayor the Ohio Revised Code, Click said he finally understood the laws and they became friends.

The animal control laws are in Chapters 951 and 955 of the Ohio Revised Code.

“The Ohio Revised Code says that we can’t work on dogs in the villages,” said Doug Malone, county commissioner. “If there was any way we could, we would. Your hands are tied to do something like that. We’d help anytime we could.”