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Theresa Servetas and her husband, Chuck Servetas, address the commission about a dog-barking problem Thursday at their weekly meeting.

Upshur County Commission declines to enact barking dog ordinance

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission decided not to enact a dog barking ordinance.

During Thursday’s Upshur County Commission meeting, two Upshur County residents, Theresa Servetas and Chuck Servetas, asked the commission if they had considered a dog barking ordinance. The couple attended the commission’s Aug. 13 meeting to complain about the persistent barking of dogs in their neighborhood, which often prevents them from sleeping at night, Theresa Servetas said.

“Since March, we’ve been trying to get something done about an ordinance, and all we’re asking for is the same rights people inside city limits have — an ordinance that if there are barking dogs, something can be done,” Servetas said. “We were told to come to the meeting, and we did on the 13th, and we were told that the dog officer (animal control/humane officer) would be sent out to talk to us and to the people.”

Servetas said Upshur Animal Control/Humane Officer Jason Knicely talked to them at their home and attempted to talk to the people in the homes with the loud dogs.

“He came out to talk to us, told us the people by the school were moving, which they haven’t yet because their dogs are still there, and even if they do move, somebody else will probably have dogs because they have these beautiful big kennels there for half a dozen dogs,” Servetas said.

“He told us that he went down to the Alton Road after, but nobody came to the door,” she added.

She said Knicely told them he would get in touch with the people he hadn’t reached yet and call them back with an update.

“He didn’t call us back,” Servetas said. “I called him over a week ago – probably almost two weeks ago – left a message on his voicemail, and he told us to call when these dogs were really barking.”

Servetas said she feels people who don’t live in the city should be able to have peace and quiet.

“It’s obvious that without the nuisance barking dog ordinance nothing can be done and they have one in town,” Servetas said. “We feel that anyone else living outside of the city limits is being discriminated against by not being able to have the same peace and quiet and relief from barking dogs.”

Commission President Terry Cutright said people live in the county to not be restricted by city ordinances.

“There are also rights that people in town don’t have that the people out of town do have, and that’s why a lot of people choose not to live in the city. Everybody has rights,” Cutright said.

Commissioner Sam Nolte said a barking dog ordinance is necessary in the city because homes are situated in closer proximity.

“The city is a little bit different from the county; people live extremely close to each other,” Nolte said. “It’s not uncommon to have a dog barking ordinance inside any city limits, but when you get out in the county, typically people are spread out. People want to live to in the county to have peace and quiet, but some people want to live out there so they can have their coon dogs or bear dogs.”

Nolte also said people have different ideas about what may be considered disruptive barking as opposed to regular barking.

“Everybody’s tolerance for barking dogs is a little bit different,” he said. “Obviously, you all have a situation where you live, and it’s really disturbing, but people live next to you and they might say it doesn’t bother them at all. That’s where it is tough with an ordinance. If you have someone that has zero tolerance for dog barking, is that going to be harmful to someone that has a dog that just barks every now then?”

Servetas said the dogs around their home are not just barking occasionally, but for almost five hours straight, and she is afraid the dogs are being abused.

“They aren’t being abused,” Knicely said. “They are getting fed very well. They have almost a trash bin full of dog food and they’re not skinny. I was also out there yesterday, and I drove by the house and there was no barking. I have talked to them and they said the only time their dogs bark is when the kids are outside playing, or when they pull into the driveway or when the mailman stops to deliver the mail.”

Upshur County Animal Control/Humane Officer Jason Knicely at Thursday’s commission meeting.

Before the Servetases left Thursday’s meeting, they asked commissioners if they had or would vote on the issue, and Cutright said since no commissioner had made a motion to vote to enact an ordinance, there would be no vote.

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