Commissioners reject new kennel ordinance draft, collect feedback

Kennel ordinance draft representative as seen in February

At a recent Caswell County Board of Commissioners meeting, a row or two of benches were filled at the Historic County Courthouse with citizens who were against a kennel ordinance draft rewrite first publicly addressed in February.

Chris Johnson, from the southern side of Caswell County, said there already is ordinance in place and he recommended the supervisors reflect on what their intentions are because he, a hunter with “probably more dogs than any other person in the county,” would be negatively affected by the new legislation while inhumane puppy breeders of times past wouldn’t.

Cynthia Drake of Oxford said while she lives outside the county, legislation passed here could have implications and copy-cat legislation elsewhere.

Drake is a breeder-handler for a rare heritage strand of American black and tan coonhounds that she said may go extinct without her efforts. She said while she does have a larger number of dogs, they’re all treated well and within federal guidelines yet such legislation as originally written would negatively affect her if implemented in her county.

Drake said she uses her dogs as a free service to hunters for tracking down deer that run away injured.

She and Johnson both said that animal-rights groups shouldn’t be the only authors to animal-welfare ordinances and other groups should be included in the discussion.

Commissioners Chairman Rick McVey said the meeting wasn’t a back and forth discussion format, but perhaps one should be setup.

McVey shared a letter sent to the commissioners by a hunting and wildlife advisory group and asked the dog owners if they too had seen it and if they agreed with the concerns written within.

Commissioner David Owen said the letter covered several of his concerns, but didn’t specify which.

More than half the dog owners said the letter didn’t cover what they would like to see in an ordinance and Johnson said he disagreed with most of it.

“Commissioners, Mr. Chairman, I’d be more than happy to take the comments you as commissioners have; incorporate those into the draft we have now; and put those onto the county website, making those available to the public before any type of public meeting is held,” said County Manager Bryan Miller.

“I think we need to be very careful about drafting specific language that would in some way hinder individual rights,” said Owen.

Commissioner Bill Carter said people would need more than two weeks to read over the potential ordinance.

Owen said the meeting should be at night so working citizens could more easily attend.

Regardless of what’s written, Owen said, those determined to do wrong will do so even if 100 pages of ordinances are written, so if citizens see or know of animals being done wrong, let county animal control officers know, he said.

The next meeting to discuss animal ordinance is set for the third Monday next month, April 15.