The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 26, 2013

Applicant rejects two-year leash for animal control job in Greenbrier County

LEWISBURG — With time running out on a temporary compromise that ensured seven-day-a-week animal control patrols, the Greenbrier County Commission announced that efforts thus far to hire a part-time dog catcher have been unsuccessful.

Commission President Karen Lobban said that the job was offered to an applicant, but “he said no.”

Commissioner Woody Hanna identified the applicant as a “qualified person” who was once a student in an Vo-Ag course Hanna taught at Greenbrier East High School. Hanna said the man is trained in law enforcement and has a job history that includes veterinary experience.

The sticking point for the otherwise unidentified applicant was the county’s insistence that he sign a binding two-year contract for the weekend job, Hanna pointed out.

Assured by commission assistant Kelly Banton that Greenbrier County Sheriff Jan Cahill is willing to allow one of the courthouse security guards to continue to work on animal control a couple of days a week, the commissioners voted to re-advertise the part-time position.

The Animal Control Department’s full-time officer, Robert McClung, agreed on July 3 to work weekends, in addition to three weekdays, for one month. Security guard James Shortridge is temporarily filling in on the two remaining weekdays.

At the time the temporary agreement was struck, McClung said he would work weekends only on “a short-term basis.”

McClung did not speak during the discussion held Tuesday regarding the postponement in hiring a permanent helper in his department.

He did, however, say a dog-related incident that drew a complaint from a county resident was “still under investigation.”

The resident reported to the commission Tuesday that her chained dog was viciously attacked by a neighbor’s free-roaming, unvaccinated, unlicensed dog on July 4.

Because she was working in another town on the 4th, the resident said, McClung responded to another neighbor’s call for assistance in the matter by simply returning the dog responsible for the attack to its owner, rather than taking her seriously injured dog to a veterinarian for treatment.

“He should have protected my dog,” the woman said.

She explained that she could not afford to pay the high cost of having a veterinarian attend to her pet on a holiday, and the animal died of its injuries a couple of days after the attack.

The commission took her complaint under advisement.

Commissioners also heard a report from Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Via concerning a dispute that has arisen over the ownership of a parcel of land adjacent to the county animal shelter.

Via said the 1-acre parcel — which he said the county actually owns — was inadvertently “sold” along with another parcel by the owner of that second parcel.

“It clearly was an innocent error,” Via said, noting a “remedy is in the works.”

He said a corrected deed will be issued, making clear that the 1 acre is still owned by the county.

Greenbrier Humane Society board President Judith Walz-Harris explained that the Greenbrier County Board of Education donated the parcel in question to the county for the use of the humane society many years ago.

Kennels and walking paths are located on the parcel, which the county intended to lease to the humane society under the same terms as the organization’s 50-year lease for the property on which the animal shelter is built.

Once the deed is sorted out, both the humane society and the county will sign the proposed lease, all agreed.

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