County Satisfied With Existing Animal Control Law

SNOW HILL –  The Worcester County Commissioners opted to make no changes to the county’s animal control ordinance this week.

While recent cold weather has prompted calls for Worcester County to strengthen its animal control ordinance, the commissioners on Tuesday voted to make no changes at this time. The current ordinance was updated in October.

“It’s working,” Chief Animal Control Officer Glen Grandstaff said. “It’s in progress. We’re still learning it. The citizens are still learning it. I think we need to give it a chance to work its way out.”

County Attorney Maureen Howarth told the commissioners staff had recently heard from several community members who wanted the county to revise its laws so that animals had to be brought indoors in cold weather. Currently, animals can be kept outside if there is suitable shelter provided. Howarth said she’d discussed the community concerns with Grandstaff.

“He’s obviously willing to enforce whatever county law the commissioners put in place,” she said. “I think he would say he’s satisfied right now with his authority but we both understand the passion of the requestors that have brought this issue to you.”

Commissioner Jim Bunting was quick to make a motion to make no changes, as he said the current ordinance was adequate.

When asked for his input, Grandstaff said he thought his staff and citizens were still learning the nuances of the ordinance updated in October. He reported there had been 17 complaints regarding sheltering and tethering since early January. Upon officers responding, in 15 of those cases the pet owners complied with animal control’s advisements. Grandstaff said in each of the other two cases, the dogs were seized by his staff.

Commissioner Bud Church said that when he’d received a complaint from someone who couldn’t get through to anyone at the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office or Worcester County Animal Control, he’d tried calling himself and hadn’t been able to get in touch with anyone either. He suggested an on-call person be within reach on weekends.

Grandstaff said he’d advised his staff to be particularly responsive during extreme weather even if it meant overtime. He said in severe hot and cold his office was always inundated with calls from concerned citizens.

“We generally get this whenever it gets below 20 degrees and if it gets above 90 degrees,” he said. “It’s just what we go through.”

Bunting, who said he’d seen some of the harsh emails the department received, praised Grandstaff and his employees for their efforts.

“You’re doing a great job under difficult circumstances,” he said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.