Dog activists call for animal control officer

By Patrick Keck - [email protected]

SCIOTO — One Wheelersburg dog’s living conditions are so dire that they have to sleep on top of its dog house. Others with local tags have been found on the Kentucky side of the river.

These stories are too typical for two Scioto County dog activists and now they are seeking change.

On Thursday, Shirley Dunn and Janey Jenkins Hiles spoke before the Scioto County Commissioners with one request in mind: bringing an animal control officer to the county.

“We have terrible, terrible animal neglect issues here in southern Ohio,” said Hiles, a Lucasville resident. “For the most part, nobody seems to care.”

Hiles is very active on social media in the promotion of animal rights, regularly posting in the “Lost and Found Pets of Scioto County” Facebook page. The neglect issue is one she said has not garnered sufficient attention over the years and has worsened especially in Portsmouth.

When the Portsmouth Daily Times reported on three area residents facing charges for animal abuse charges in 2018, she said it was the first time local media had brought the problem to light.

“Animal abuse has been kept as a deep dark secret here in our county,” she said in a June 2018 post. “Now with the help of this article as well as felony charges it is out in light of day for all to see.”

Dunn has encountered the aforementioned Wheelersburg dog for the past three years. The situation, no protection from the weather and unclean drinking water, is one that “tears her heart up.”

“That poor baby dug a hole under his dog house, trying to get under the shade,” the Wheelersburg resident and life-long dog lover said. “These drug addicts don’t care.”

Commissioner Bryan Davis said the issue is one the board is well-aware of and discussions with Sheriff David Thoroughman ongoing. As a dog owner himself, it is upsetting for him to see the prevalence of maltreatment.

“Unfortunately, we do have some people that don’t care about animals,” he said, where other crimes like child neglect and illegal dumping are also taking place at the same locations. “I’ll assure you, and I’ve assured you before, I’m a dog lover, I’m an animal lover.”

To afford an animal control officer, however, more revenue needs to be brought in from dog licensing tags. Ohio Revised Code 955.01 requires all dog owners to purchase a license in the county in which the dog resides.

According to the Scioto County Auditor website, there are multiple prices for dog licenses based on the term of tag. For one-year new licenses or renewals, the base fee is $12 with an online fee of $2. Three-year tags cost $39.25, $3.25 online fee, while permanent tags cost $128 with $8 for the online fee.

Despite it being state law, Hiles said many don’t purchase tags either out of a lack of knowledge or purposefully cutting corners. The penalty for not registering, the law states, should be assessed by the auditor should be “in an amount equal to the registration fee for one year” in addition to the registration fee.

The revenue brought in from dog tags is low, Davis said, not enough to run the Scioto County Dog Shelter on Arrowhead North Run even. What would help that situation, Hiles suggests, would be more stringent enforcement of the penalties.

Currently, she argues, that is not the case. Davis and Commissioner Cathy Coleman said citations are being given, but there are many doors to be knocked on.

“It is the law,” Hiles said. “It’s the same reason you have car tags- maintain the roads. The same thing with dog tags- maintain the dogs.”

By Patrick Keck

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter. © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter. © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.