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Morgantown City Council postpones vote on animal cruelty law

MORGANTOWN — Morgantown City Council postponed a second reading of proposed updates to the city’s animal cruelty law until its Nov. 7 regular meeting.
The delay came at the suggestion of Dana Johnson, Monongalia County K9 Adoption Center and animal control supervisor, who pointed to a couple potential issues with the draft ordinance, particularly in how notice is provided to pet owners impacted by the law.
The proposed city changes would have required a published notice informing owners that their pet was removed. Johnson said that could take as long as three weeks, straining an already crowded adoption center.
“That’s too long. We take in over 1,000 dogs a year and it’s just really difficult for us to hold a dog like that for a long period of time,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that along with leaving notice at the residence the animal is removed from, the county’s law mandates a notice is posted for five days at the adoption center, located off River Road. After that, the animal becomes property of the county.
Johnson also said the city’s law needs to include a better definition of what constitutes a shelter.
“It needs to state something as far as four walls, a roof and a door,” Johnson said. “People think it’s ok to tie their dogs on their porch because there’s a roof and a floor, but it’s completely open. It’s not really protecting them from the elements at all other than maybe a little bit of sun.”
Johnson said the adoption center has fielded 45 calls pertaining to animal cruelty since Jan. 1, including a felony conviction out of Morgantown.
“I’ve just seen a shift in our county and our city in the 18 years I’ve been here, and cruelty to animals, unfortunately, is, for lack of a better phrase, becoming more prominent,” Johnson said. “It’s a problem.”
Monongalia County provides dog warden services for Morgantown. In August, city council approved a  $29,293.55 payment for the service.
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