A hearing was held as part of the Nelson County Board of Supervisors evening meeting on November 10 for public comments to an amendment to County Code O2020-02, Dogs Running at Large.
David Parr, West District Supervisor, began his inaugural term this year by forming a committee in June to study the animal control ordinance. The committee created a suitable version for legal review and presentation to the new Board of Supervisors.
In 2018, the Board met with significant opposition from county hunters and changes to the ordinance under review that failed to pass. Parr, who had heard concerns from members of the community, formed a 5-member committee that included Kevin Wright, Animal Control officer, as the nonvoting chair and 3 members with hunting dogs. The committee examined several ordinances from surrounding counties including Albemarle, where an ordinance passed in February.
During the public comments section of the hearing, eight of nine citizens spoke in favor of the ordinance. Those who worked on the committee to help write the ordinance included Bonnie Stevens, Nelson County Humane Society, David McGann, and Karl Coffey, who all spoke in favor of the ordinance. McGann stated that he owns “23 hunting dogs responsibly and is glad to see an ordinance offering protection from loose wild dogs.” Coffey mentioned that all his hunting dogs have GPS collars.
Michael Pinon of Afton described the frequency of barking dogs running loose at night near his home near Edible Landscaping, where he operates an AirBnb homestay. Nick Rush lives on nearby Chapel Hollow Road and described his experience of hunting dogs running free 24 hours a day. Mary Rush said she cannot go for a walk along the road without having bear mace for protection from large roaming dogs.
Parr explained that without an ordinance, animal control officers have no authority to stop problem dogs. He described the ordinance as a “tool in the toolbox of animal control.” Parr said, “This is not intended to prohibit friendly dogs from visiting their neighbors.” Collars with owner’s name and phone number are needed to identify responsibility.
Urgent animal complaints can be reported calling 911, non-urgent complaints can be reported to the Animal Control center’s non-emergency number 434-263-7047.