Wellsville resident laments inaction on animal ordinances

WELLSVILLE – Though most of the debate centered around the position of village police chief at the meeting of Village Council on Tuesday evening, grievances were also aired about animal cruelty ordinances that were begun two years ago.

During public comments, Connie Carmichael, president of the Wellsville Animal Advocacy Group (WAAG), asked Councilman John Morrow why ordinance drafts worked on in collaboration between himself, Carmichael and village animal control officer Heidi Pecorelli have yet to come before council.

According to Carmichael, the group met in 2012 working toward the creation of legislation that would outlaw leaving dogs tethered outside constantly, as well as leaving dogs outside in extreme winter cold and summer heat.

“What is it about a dog being chained outside 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that you’re OK with?” she asked Morrow. “We had one of the coldest [winters] on record, and I guess you’re OK with it, because nothing was done then.”

Morrow replied that much of what Carmichael is seeking for village ordinance is already covered by the Ohio Revised Code, though not in terms so specific as minimum and maximum temperatures beyond which a dog must be brought indoors. He also admitted that work responsibilities have gotten in the way of him concentrating more on the issue, for which he apologized.

Morrow argued that he has shown his dedication to opposing animal cruelty by testifying with Pecorelli, as well as having personally fostered a homeless dog.

Pecorelli also spoke, stating that the number of complaints she receives about barking dogs is “astronomical,” and that the majority are related to dogs that have been tied or chained outside, leading to a problem the dogs can’t fix. “They can’t get in the shade, they can’t get to their food bowl – something’s not right with them,” she said.

As animal control officer, Pecorelli says village residents who call and complain about barking or tied-up dogs blame her personally for lack of action on the problem, which she believes is unfair.

She also shared her disappointment at the lack of legislation resulting from the work sessions held two years ago. “It’s tough to know that we did all that work and nothing was done about it,” Pecorelli said.

Mayor Susan Haugh asked Carmichael if concerns from hunters had been part of the reason for the delay, and if she had researched how other communities have addressed the matter. “In some places, they were exempted [from the rules], and in others, they were not,” Carmichael replied. “You look at the community you’re in and do what you’re able to do.”

Carmichael asked Morrow to restart the legislative process, with hopes of having an ordinance to bring before council. Morrow agreed and asked councilman Don Brown, who is now chairman of the ordinance committee, to arrange for a meeting to revisit the process, along with village solicitor Andy Beech to review the legal framework for such legislation.