Resident voices concern over dog issues with commission

Published 7:30 am Wednesday, May 31, 2023

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The Covington County Commission heard comments from a citizen experiencing dog issues and also made two board appointments for the E-911 board at a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, May 23.

Wendy Mayo addressed the commission with concerns about her neighbor’s dogs and asked the commission to adopt section 3-1-5a of the Alabama State Code.

The code states as follows: (a) Every person owning or having in charge any dog or dogs shall at all times confine such dog or dogs to the limits of his own premises or the premises on which such dog or dogs is or are regularly kept. Nothing in this section shall prevent the owner of any dog or dogs or other person or persons having such dog or dogs in his or their charge from allowing such dog or dogs to accompany such owner or other person or persons elsewhere than on the premises on which such dog or dogs is or are regularly kept. Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than $2.00 nor more than $50.00.

“I know the thought of this change upsets a lot of people and also know that many locals support the change,” Mayo said. “To the people who have become upset about the law changes in relation to loose dogs, it’s important to realize I’m not about forcing every loose dog onto a chain or leash. It’s quite the opposite, and my goal for advocating this change is to provide a legal recourse for people being terrorized by a dangerous dog. Currently, we have no laws in place here for people who reside outside of city limits, even in the case when someone has been bitten or severely harmed by another’s dog.”

Mayo stated that she has done everything to avoid being confronted by her neighbor’s dog since moving outside Andalusia two years ago.

“This has gotten to the point to where I no longer feel safe in my own yard. I am constantly looking over my shoulder when I am on my property. My next-door neighbor lives about 1,000 feet away, and his dogs have repeatedly chased me any time they catch a glimpse of me such as when I check my mailbox or put my trash by the street. They even bolted at me aggressively when I tried to access the water spigot on my own property on the corner of my house. I have had to start driving to the mailbox with fear of altercation of my neighbor’s dogs.”

She advocated for safety of others in Covington County despite countless efforts contacting county officials.

“Every time I try to find a solution to the dangerous situation, I was met with the same answer. There are simply no laws in Covington County that have been put in place for anyone. I have spoken to the Sheriff and District Attorney personally. I understand how important is in Alabama to protect the rights of the people, but sometimes sense dictates where one right overrides another. The right to public safety, particularly on one’s own property, absolutely must override a dog owner’s right to continually allow their dog to be a danger to the public,” Mayo said.

Chairman Greg White stated that counties have a very limited home rule.

“One of the things we can address from the county commission is related to animal control. We cannot adopt a rule or ordinance that restricts the use of hunting dogs or restricts an owner from raising or breeding animals,” White said.

Mayo added that she has not addressed her neighbor directly regarding the incident.

“I am a single woman not from this area. My family has advised me against doing so out of fear I may show up on this man’s doorstep and meet an unfavorable response. I left a note on his mailbox.”

The commission did not take any action on the matter at the meeting.

Sheriff Blake Turman addressed Mayo’s concerns and said he had visited her neighbor.

“I have been out there, and there are some dogs that are quite aggressive. I think the problem is that while these dogs are domesticated, they don’t know their boundaries. If that neighbor’s dog stayed in his yard, we wouldn’t be sitting here talking about this today,” Turman said.

Turman added that the law Mayo referenced was put in place for counties to adopt at their discretion.

“Whatever the commission decides to do, I will support 100 percent. It will take a few extra resources, but I’m willing to work anything else I can out. She (Mayo) does have a concern, and during the last election, a dog bit me. It’s really something for you (the commission) to think about.”

According to Revenue Commissioner Chuck Patterson, 71 parcels were sold at the 2022 delinquent property tax sale on Wednesday, May 17.

“We will keep working on them and seeing how many more we can get. Our next steps are doing final settlement for year 2022 and advertising insolvents for personal and business property in the Andalusia Star-News,” Patterson said.

The commission made appointments for the E-911 board. The commission voted unanimously to re-appoint Wayne Godwin and Kyle Adams by a 3-2 vote to the board. Chairman White had to break a 2-2 tie between the commissioners who were split between Adams and Ken Harris. Both appointments were made for four-year terms.

In other business:

  • The commission voted unanimously to re-nominate Virginia Brawner, Kyle Gantt, and Joe Bush for the state’s Board of Equalization. The commission only made its recommendations to the state for final approval.
  • The commission approved the solicitation of bids for equipment parts and repair parts, as well as shop rates, to be used by the Engineer’s Department.
  • The commission approved the purchase of a tractor and bush hog replacements, also for the Engineer’s Department.

The next meeting of the Covington County Commission will be held Tuesday, June 13, 9 a.m., at the Covington County Administration Building. The public is invited to attend.