In winter, people enjoy curling up in front of the fireplace, and their dogs, no doubt, love to be there too. But if that’s not possible, don’t forget to provide for your pet’s comfort and well-being outdoors.

Jefferson County’s Dog Tethering and Confinement Ordinance is especially important in cold weather. Outdoors, dogs must be confined in a permanent fenced enclosure or tethered by a rope, chain, or physical restraint. They may not be tethered for more than 14 hours in a 24-hour period. Dogs in permanent enclosures, or tethered for more than two hours, must be provided with adequate shelter. This means a structure with walls, a roof, a door, and a solid floor—big enough for the dog to stand, turn, and lie down—and provided with bedding.

Shade, food, and water must also be provided. Violation is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of no more than $100 for each violation. See the requirements for enclosure size and the length of tethers, based on dog size, via the Jefferson County Commission here— beneath the ‘County Government’ dropdown and ‘Ordinances’ tab.

Jefferson County Animal Control partners with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department on cruelty to animals and enforces the dog tethering and confinement ordinance. Deputy Sheriff Allan Thomas, Animal Control Superintendent, reports that the most complaints are received in winter.

He noted that callers might be neighbors, or simply someone driving by, but they are not identified. Some callers just leave a message and do not wish to be contacted, but he added that it’s helpful to know who called.

Fortunately, Thomas observed that there have not been many enforcement issues. “A warning is given, the animal owner gets notice, and they have fifteen days to come into compliance,” he explained. “Some people may not know about our laws, and all we ask if they are given notice is that they come into compliance. So far, nobody has been fined.”

Other situations handled by Animal Control include animal bites, aggressive dogs, and rabies exposures. Complaints about wildlife are handled by the Department of Natural Resources.

Senior Animal Control Officer Jess Ebersole added, “We do rabies testing and send samples away to a lab. We will deal with wildlife in emergency cases involved with public safety, for example, if there is wildlife in the living space of a house.”

Animal Control also picks up stray dogs and posts their pictures on Facebook with notes about where they were found. People can reclaim them during business hours.

Thomas, a former K9 officer, is a dog lover, and assures the public that dogs coming into their shelter are treated well. “We treat them the same as we treat our own pets,” he emphasized.

Although, by law, unclaimed dogs may be euthanized, Thomas said that unless dogs are dangerous, they would rather adopt them out or send them to a no-kill shelter. He reports that Jefferson County Sheriff Dougherty wants everyone to know that there have been considerable changes, updates, and repairs to Animal Control facilities over the last several months, including the purchase of a new, fully-equipped truck.

The Jefferson County Animal Control facility is located at 161 Poor Farm Road, Kearneysville (WV). Find out more by calling 304-728-3289 (emergency: 304-725-8484). Officers are on call weekends and evenings for emergencies.

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