Residents ask commission to adopt county leash law

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The Covington County Commission heard comments from a second concerned citizen on the state’s dog laws and also approved several items at a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, June 13.

Michael Birge asked the commission to adopt a law requiring rural dog owners to keep their dogs on their own property on a leash.

“I talked to the Chief Deputy on Feb. 10, 2023, about two dogs in our neighborhood. We have lived in our present location for 49 years with no dog issues. We own 70 acres on the west side and 87 acres on the east side of Alabama Highway 55 (Rodney J. Evans Memorial Highway) between the 5- and 6-mile markers. Our property is bordered on the north by Glenn Reynolds’ 140-acre property – formerly the Wagner property. On the west side, our land is bordered by 80 acres owned by the Chance estate. On the south side, we are bordered by the Chance Road and Rayonier Timber Company and Steve Geohagan,” Birge said.

According to Birge, his neighbor’s dogs disrupted his deer-hunting season.

“One is a black aggressive dog, and the other one is a white Great Pyrenees. I asked the owners several times to keep their dogs on their 12 acres, but they replied they moved up to the country where their dogs could go where they wanted to. I explained I had time and money in my deer food plots. I asked if they would at least keep them shut up or on leashes in the yard early in the day and late afternoon when I hunted. I even offered to help put up an electric fence or a mesh wire fence. I have cameras on my food plots and even sent picture messages to them showing the dogs in the food plots. They said they tried to tie one of the dogs, but he broke the rope. The black dog has a tracking collar. The owners should be aware of how far the dog is roaming from their 12 acres and trespassing on all the neighbors’ property,” he said.

Birge addressed the commission about his neighbors experiencing similar difficulties.

“On May 26, this same dog came across the Chance property and started growling and charging at my 5-year-old grandson and my wife who were playing soccer on our property behind our mesh fence. If we had not had this fence between our yard and the Chance Estate, I believe the dog would have attacked them. The black dog has charged at me when I was cutting the grass around the old Chance house. We have never had anyone in our neighborhood who owned an aggressive dog that not only threatens men but terrorizes women and children. I am here to encourage the county to adopt the statute Alabama Code 3-1-5 for dog owners to keep their dogs on their own property or leased property,” Birge stated.

The commission agreed to look further into the matter but did not take any action at the meeting.

“It has been a long-standing problem, but in earlier years, there was not any authority for the county to do anything. The act referred to was enacted 10 or 12 years ago, but now, it is something we can take action on and maybe help resolve the problem. Enforcement will be on the Sheriff, and that’s where the problem lies because if you enact it, there are going to be more and more calls asking for attention and help. You can cover some of those with current staff, but additional staff may be needed,” Chairman Greg White said.

The commission approved an Internet re-rate for the county to proceed with the company Blue Plains.

“The company we are presently using is proposing a significant increase to our current rates that would require us signing a three-year contract. We have the option of going with a third-party provider that will allow us to go month-to-month at a lower rate with the same service, so we will change to the reseller,” White said.

The commission approved a memorandum of understanding with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency for the Sheriff’s Department to receive electronic upgrades.

“ALEA received some grant funding allowing them to upgrade to a smart-scan server and provide a much more substantial database for agencies across the state. Part of that requires local agencies to feed the data in, so they have proposed equipment and training to the Sheriff’s Department if the Sheriff agrees to scan it and pull the equipment off of every person booked into the Covington County Jail. This would give a really strong database of those involved with crimes and will build the system for the state along with other counties and state agencies. It’s a low cost to us since it’s something we already do. With other equipment, this is upgraded high-tech equipment than we currently have. The cost to the county is $3,800 a year, which is basically the maintenance cost. ALEA will handle the equipment and training,” White said.

The commission announced they had purchased a piece of rental property contiguous to the Covington Arena.

“The owner agreed to sell us the property, which was a parcel of a little over 12 acres. We paid approximately $70,142, just under $6,000 an acre. Vehicles will be able to access or leave the property through an access point off of South Cotton Street.”

In other business:

  • The commission approved the awarding of a bid in the amount of $5,500 for an air-conditioning unit three-phase heat pump system to Rogers Refrigeration, which was the lowest bidder.
  • The commission approved an air conditioning unit at approximately $15,000 for the Covington County Jail that was also bid to Rogers Refrigeration.
  • The commission unanimously approved insolvents, errors, and tax litigations for fiscal year 2022 as submitted by Revenue Commissioner Chuck Patterson.
  • The commission approved the purchase of add-on equipment for a 2023 Ford Responder in the Sheriff’s Department at a cost of $4,263.49. This equipment includes light bars, sirens, etc.
  • The commission approved out-of-state travel for the Engineer’s Department to send two workers to Iowa for the purchase of a paint truck. Commission policy states that any out-of-state travel by County officials or employees must be approved by the commission at an open meeting.
  • The commission approved the solicitation of bids for bridge components in the Engineer’s Department.
  • The commission reached a consensus for the Engineer’s Department to receive quotes towards the purchase of new tracking devices for county vehicles.
  • Chairman White announced Stephanie Cotton resigned from her position as the county attorney and took a job with the Alabama Department of Revenue. The county is in the early stages of locating a replacement for legal counsel.

The next meeting of the Covington County Commission will be held Tuesday, June 27, 9 a.m., at the Covington County Administration Building. The public is invited to attend.