SNOW HILL – Changes to Worcester County’s animal control laws were greeted with applause from those in attendance at this week’s meeting of the Worcester County Commissioners.
On Tuesday, the commissioners voted unanimously to update the county’s animal control regulations in an effort to promote animal welfare and make it easier for animal control officers to enforce the law.
“I thank you all for bringing this up,” said Heather Bahrami, a board member of the Worcester County Humane Society. “I really think this will help us as a community take care of our animals better and assist animal control in doing their job better and more easily.”
According to Maureen Howarth, the county’s attorney, the provisions proposed to be added to the county’s animal control article related to weather conditions, shelter and tethering. The added language defines unsafe weather conditions — temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or above 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the immediate vicinity of the animal — and addresses appropriate tethering and shelter.
“We defined also another unsafe weather condition would be when the National Weather Service issues a severe weather alert and the forecasted weather is such that a person could reasonably conclude that the weather would pose an adverse risk to the health or safety of the animal based on animal’s size, age, physical condition and thickness of the animal’s hair or fur,” Howarth said.
Bahrami said she’d reached out to Commissioner Bud Church seeking changes to the animal control ordinance last year. She said there were always a few dogs that were left out in unsafe weather conditions. Though she and others call Worcester County Animal Control to report the incidents, she said there was often nothing they could do.
“They go out there and they (the pet’s owners) have what right now is considered legal and their hands are tied because that dog can still be left outside in the snow with that little tiny doghouse and that tether,” she said. “I think the laws that are current are just not humane.”
She said she created an online petition in support of the changes up for consideration Tuesday and had more than 1,900 signatures in two weeks.
“Hundreds of people left comments regarding the bill,” she said. “I didn’t see a single negative comment.”
Berlin resident Judith Galuardi also spoke up in support of the proposed changes.
“These are living, breathing animals,” she said. “I feel like they deserve to be treated humanely. I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Church thanked the speakers and the other concerned attendees.
“I appreciate your support today and I think we’re in good shape,” he said.