Raleigh County Animal Control may get a $50,000 boost from the City of Beckley, following a meeting between Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold and Raleigh County Commission representatives on Tuesday.

Rappold said Raleigh Commission has asked the city to contribute the money to help support a county employee, a truck and uniforms for the county Animal Control service, which oversees animal welfare and transports stray animals.

The mayor said Wednesday that city officials plan to suggest that Beckley Common Council make the $50,000 contribution to Animal Control.

"The city could never start up our own animal control service for anything near that cost," he said. "The city calls for animal control represents a significant number of total calls.

"The county has all the infrastructure in place, and we think the investment makes financial and operational sense."

In April, two residents of Ward V, Joshua Barrett and Jobard Shaw, told The Register-Herald that Barrett's Ward V neighborhood had been overrun by stray pit bulls and that calls to Animal Control had not resulted in the dogs being taken from the streets.  

Raleigh Humane Society officials reported that, in May of 2019, Animal Control and citizens had brought 162 stray animals into the Humane Society shelter on Grey Flats Road, which is a nonprofit entity that is challenged to find space for animals at its Grey Flats Road shelter. The Humane Society, which is not affiliated with Animal Control, has suffered budget pitfalls of decreased donations and increased veterinary bills in recent years, even as the number of stray animals has increased.

Suzan Loving, a Humane Society board member, said in July that Raleigh Commission and the City of Beckley had each given $20,000, for a total of $40,000, in emergency funding in 2018 but that the funds were not made available in 2019.

Annual funding of $60,000 from the city covers about a quarter of the shelter's operations costs, Loving said in May 2018.

State lawmakers introduced bills dealing with animal cruelty, dog fighting, abuse and neglect to the West Virginia Legislature in January, but none were passed. Regional animal shelter operators had anticipated a need for increased space in their shelters, if those laws were passed.

Councilwoman-at-Large Sherrie Hunter in February said she would support a local ordinance to protect animals tethered outside in inclement weather.

Rappold had said that enforcement by Beckley Police Department would be difficult, due to the roughly 26,000 calls that BPD addresses each year.

Raleigh Commission President Dave Tolliver said Friday that Rappold and city treasurer Billie Trump met with him concerning the $50,000 and that the money is necessary for hiring a third animal control officer.

He added that, in July or August, Animal Control responded to 195 calls within city limits. He added that he is unaware of reports regarding the pit bulls in Ward V.

Currently, said Tolliver, one of the county animal control officers is on sick leave and the county's second animal control officer will be taking earned leave in the near future. A third officer is necessary and has been advertised, he said.

There is no animal control officer on duty until Monday, Sept. 23, he reported.

Tolliver said that from Sept. 21 to Sept. 22, calls regarding vicious dogs should be directed to Raleigh Sheriff's Office or Beckley Police Department.

No other calls will be taken at Animal Control until this coming Monday.

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