County leaders discuss procedures for vicious dogs

The Upshur County Animal Control officer has been alerted to what one neighborhood believes is a vicious dog after hearing stories of how some people carry clubs to the mailbox in fear of being attacked.

“Some ladies are afraid to go out of their yards,” Andy Losh told county commissioners recently. “One lady, every time she goes to her mailbox, she carries a club because that dog growls at her. We want to be good neighbors, but the time has come for somebody to step up and do something.”

The Upshur County Commission heard stories of how the dog has chased cars, growled at people going into a nearby church and barked at people entering a school. Many of the residents complained the dog has gone after mail carriers and other delivery service employees.

Animal Control officer Mike Miller said he searched the area for more than a week before learning who is responsible for the animal. He said the dog is only 8 months old, “and still has a lot of puppy in him,” but added the dog is still the biggest Doberman he has ever seen.

“It’s an intimidating factor,” Miller said. “The fear mechanism kicks in, and that is going to compound the situation.”

Miller said he spoke with the owners of the animal, who agreed to keep it on a leash or tied up. But many residents of the area said the dog has continued to roam loose. He said he could require the owners to purchase a vicious dog license from the assessor’s office, which requires a $10 yearly fee and the provision that the dog must be contained to the property.

“They would not be allowed to walk the dog all over the neighborhood,” Miller said.

He said if the owners still fail to follow the requirements, the dog could be seized and the owners fined.

“They would also be legally liable for any damage the dog inflicts,” Miller said.

County Commissioner JC Raffety said waiting until the dog attacks somebody is dealing with the situation after the fact.

“It’s really hard to do anything (beforehand),” Miller said. “Somebody’s going to have to get bit before we can step in and seize the dog.”