WEST LOGAN, W.Va. — Town council meetings are seldom heavily attended affairs…so when there were multiple members of the community present at a Monday evening meeting it was a sure bet that some feathers…or fur…had been ruffled.
One man who showed up for the West Logan Council meeting said he was irate that he kept hearing complaints about his cats, while another said he was concerned about the idea of possibly paying $15 per pet for his dogs. A third man present said he did not have a problem with a proposal made at last month’s meeting that would require residents of West Logan to pay a fee to have their animals licensed and tagged.
“We have a couple of people here from the public and I feel we should hear from them first,” Mayor Darren Akers said.
James Richards said that he owned 12 dogs and that he opposed the idea, which he referred to as a “dog tax.”
“People are taxed enough,” Richards said, noting that such a proposal would cost him $150. Richards said he would not oppose a cost per household, but felt that it would be a burden on those who had multiple animals. He said he had spoken with many people who opposed the idea and who had signed a petition about it.
Mayor Akers explained that the council had not come to any agreement as of that time and that the matter had come up after an incident where two local dogs had gotten loose and killed a neighbor’s cat. He also noted that for the past year there had been multiple problems with a residence in the town that had more than once incident where some large pit bulls had gotten loose and were running wild in the neighborhood, including an incident where a small child had been bitten.
“I appreciate your concerns,” Mayor Akers said.
Ironically the Mayor and many people on the council are animal lovers themselves. One councilmember has a cat that she takes with her on vacation and both the mayor and the town clerk have family dogs.
Last month’s proposal would be to have animals licensed and tagged at a one-time only cost of $15 per the life of the animal. Town attorney Steven Wolfe asked Richards why he opposed the measure.
“I feel people are taxed enough,” Richards said. He added that he felt the county’s dog catcher and dog pound should be able to handle any problems relating to animals.
Dave Hicks said he also had multiple dogs but said he was not opposed to the idea. Hicks noted that his dogs are trained and have never been reported as running loose.
Councilmember Delores Murray asked if there had been any ordinances about how many animals a person could own. The mayor said he thought there may have been an ordinance in the past about nuisance problems.
“That is the reason for this meeting,” Akers said, noting that a decision about the matter had not been made. “This is a public hearing. We are not against you. We are just trying to alleviate a problem.”
The mayor noted that one of the biggest problems the town currently faced was the fact that many non-residents will drop off stray dogs and cats in West Logan and that townsfolks will then feed them- which has led to problems with the animals that technically nobody will lay claim to owning.
“We aren’t against anybody…we are just trying to solve a problem,” he said. “We have not made a decision yet.”
Wolfe said it might be possible to have a lower pro-rated fee for people with multiple pets.
J.D. Charles is a freelance writer and a former reporter for The Logan Banner.