SALISBURY- Officials in Wicomico County are seeking input from multiple entities to restore and repurpose the former Dog Ordinance Review Committee, which will soon address issues regarding animal welfare.
In an open work session last week, Council President John Cannon asked councilmembers to suggest ideas for a new animal committee.
“We are trying to get some input from the council and maybe their thoughts for establishing a committee similar to what was done a few years back,” he said.
Councilman Joe Holloway said the county established the Dog Ordinance Review Committee years ago after a dog mauled and injured a young man in Willards. Committee members at the time, Cannon said, were tasked with providing recourse and rules that would protect residents from further dog attacks.
Councilman Marc Kilmer explained, however, that a more recent meetings between the council and Aaron Balsamo, executive director of the Humane Society of Wicomico County, exposed shortcomings in the law.
“We’ve obviously had some concerns from folks who think the law went to far,” he said.
Cannon explained that the new committee would now shift its focus to animal rights.
“In light of more recent circumstances, especially the puppy mills and other incidences,” Cannon said, “we found out that the animals are also short on their rights, and it is something that is a concern for our citizens of Wicomico County. We want to try and resolve that issue so we don’t see this recurring again, where we have animals that are suffering and you have this huge unfortunate incident that occurred in the past year.”
Cannon said the council would ask for input from the humane society, local municipalities, judiciary officials and former committee members to gather a list of issues and establish a direction for the new group.
“I do like this idea and I think it’s long overdue,” Councilman Larry Dodd said, but asked how the council would choose a committee.
Cannon explained that names would come from the prior committee if they were interested, but said other groups would help.
“I would like to see a diverse group of people,” Dodd added.
Holloway added that the committee’s name would also need to be addressed to better reflect its new direction to protect all animals.
“It’s called the Dog Ordinance Review Committee,” he said. “The first thing we need to do is change the title.”
Cannon plans for 10 committee members to meet twice a month until a law is passed that better addresses animal rights.
“That’s a start,” he said.