Vicious dog ordinance requested


BUCKHANNON — Local citizen Katie Loudin approached the Upshur County Commission Thursday morning on behalf of her family, to ask for policy change regarding a vicious/dangerous dog ordinance.  The Loudin’s family dog, Gingersnap, who had recently turned 12, saw the family through a lot of major life events, such as grad school, their wedding, and the homecoming of both of their children.  On May 29, Loudin told Commissioners that Gingersnap had been let out off the front porch and shortly after, her husband witnessed the dog being viciously shaken to death in the jaws of their neighbor’s dog.  

The Loudin’s called 911 that evening to file a report and waited until the next morning to talk with Animal Control Officer Jason Knicely.  Loudin explained that the assailant dog had been aggressive previously, but they chased it off and did not report the dog in effort to be kind to their neighbors.  Unfortunately, being neighborly prevented Knicely from taking the dog to the pound forthwith. 

Loudin said the ACO explained to her that had there been previous reports of the dog being aggressive, it could’ve been taken to the pound that morning.  Knicely also allegedly told Loudin that if they lived in Lewis County, the dog could’ve been seized due to their new vicious/dangerous dog ordinance that passed in December 2019. 

The Lewis County ordinance states, “That a public nuisance dog is a dog which chases, attacks, injures, bites or scratches a person, a dog which repeatedly scatters garbage or impinges upon or destroys property of another person, a dog which chases, attacks, or injures another animal not belonging to the owner of the dog and not located on the premise of the owner of the dog, and a dog which chases vehicles, bikes or other means of transportations, while not located on the dog owner’s property.”  Regarding vicious dogs, the humane officer is designated as the person responsible for initially determining a probable cause to believe that a dog is a danger or vicious, and if found to be dangerous, the officer will communicate as much to the dog’s owner in writing, accompanied by a citation and a summons to appear before the Magistrate Court for violation of WV Code §19-20-20. 

Loudin requested that the Upshur County Commission pass an ordinance, at least as long as Lewis County’s, to protect the next family.  She explained their neighbors have been kind, and in fact, they’re also grieving as they surrendered their dog on May 30 to be put down after the incident.  “I am heartbroken for them, as they too have lost part of their family,” Loudin sympathized.  She said her family has no interest in taking anyone to court, but she doesn’t want offending animals to sit in their homes, protected, while families next door can’t stop grieving their loss. 

Also on Thursday morning, Building Permit and Floodplain Coordinator Terri Jo Bennett gave an update on the Wellness Complex located on Brushy Fork and what could be done there.  It takes up approximately 14 acres and is located within the corporation limits.  Bennett explained that approximately six and a half acres of it is considered to be in the floodplain.   Before deciding what to do with the property, Bennet said the county would have to perform a Hydrologic and Hydraulic (H&H) Study, which measures the velocity of the water.  She added that an estimate for the study could range from $11,000, up to $30,000.  An engineering consultant out of Bridgeport estimated the lowest cost and would need a couple of months to complete the work.  The H&H Study is performed on hazardous areas and will be measuring the velocity of the backup water coming from the Buckhannon River, which will be miles of work.  Commissioner Kristie Tenney mentioned working together in collaboration with the Development Authority. 

The Commission did not decide on either matter, as they would like to look into these issues more closely and make a decision at a later date.

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