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Protect Brooke County Animals

Cruelty to and neglect of animals arouses strong feelings among many area residents. But so does government action resented as unnecessary intrusion on private lives.

Brooke County officials will hold a public hearing today on a proposed animal cruelty ordinance. The meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in the commission room at the County Courthouse in Wellsburg.

Blatant cruelty and clear neglect outrage most people. But the devil always is in the details, and if there are complaints about the proposal, they will stem from its definitions.

In addition to prohibiting cruelty to animals, the proposal covers requirements for leaving dogs outside. They must be tethered so they cannot wander onto others’ property. The draft ordinance specifies what types of materials can be used for tethering. In addition, it goes into detail on what types of canine shelters are acceptable.

For example, dog shelter floors must be at least 2 inches off the ground. They must be both moisture-proof and wind-proof. And, the draft stipulates, shelters “shall be provided with a sufficient quantity of suitable bedding material which would promote retention of body heat.”

Some dog owners — people who do the best they can to keep their pets warm in the winter, cool in the summer and dry at all times — may wonder whether the provisions they make could run afoul of the ordinance.

If there is opposition to the plan, it should not be allowed to kill it. If changes need to be made, the proposal should be altered — but the idea should not be dropped altogether. A reasonable animal ordinance is important to safeguard the small minority of dogs, cats and other creatures whose owners do not take care of them adequately.

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