County: No leash law, but maybe regulations to come

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Commissioners said Monday they will not establish a leash law in Covington County; instead, they plan to seek legislative help in establishing vicious animal regulations.

Chairman Lynn Sasser said he, and the other commissioners, hope to adopt a measure similar that of Madison County. In 2010 a statewide vote authorized the Madison commission to adopt a resolution establishing a procedure to declare a dog “dangerous” and impose civil penalties on the owner if the dog has inflicted “severe personal harm on another person.”

That same resolution also gave commissioners the option to require that dangerous dogs, as defined by the commission, be kept in a fenced enclosure, as defined by the commission, with input from the local humane society.

Commissioners said because of the cost associated with animal control and concerns expressed by their constituents, they “didn’t feel it was right” to impose a leash law in the county.

“We’ve had a lot of calls about (animal control), and we’re concerned about animal attacks,” said Commissioner Harold Elmore. “That’s why we’ve been so slow to act about doing something.”

County attorney Julie Moody said attempts to obtain a copy of Madison County’s resolution before the day’s meeting were unsuccessful.

“But from what we understand, the resolution declares what is a dangerous dog and the specifics of dealing with its owner,” Moody said. “Under state law, it’s required for the animal to have attacked an individual one time before something is done. (Madison’s) may not require an attack or for the animal to be vicious in the past, but we have to check it out.”

Commissioners David Ellis and Carl Turman each expressed their constituents’ concerns about a countywide leash law.

“Opp, who has a leash law, can’t even handle their own animals in their area,” Ellis said. “Imagine what it would be like if we tried to do it for the county.”

The soonest a vote could be held would be in 2012.

In other business, the commission:

• approved a resolution regarding guaranty of the airport bond issue.

• reappointed Willie Thomas, Virginia Brauner and Diane Lee to the personnel review board; Wayne Godwin and Susan Harris to the E911 board; and Bill Godwin, Glen Walters and Virginia Brauner to the board of equalizations.

• approved an agreement with the state transportation department for the widening and resurfacing of a 4.3-mile section of County Road 27.