Humane officer: Dogs on loose in West Milford 'blatant disregard of the law'

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HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - Neighbors and West Milford officials says it's fairly common to see dogs off their leashes, running loose, and roaming around on other peoples' properties.

"It's an annoyance, because I have dogs running across the porch once in a while," said Josh Smith, who lives in West Milford. "And they just sit there and bark."

Others recount stories that suggest the problem is more than just a nuisance.

"I was sitting there outside one evening, and I noticed that my dog was just being attacked by a dog that was the size of a Rottweiler," said one woman, who spoke to 5 News on the condition of anonymity.

She also shared a separate incident, from about two years ago, when her other dog was shot and killed by someone. She never found out who it was, but believes the person had mistaken the dog for a stray.

Both incidents happened while the dogs were on her property.

"It's said," she said. "It makes me sick."

The mayor of West Milford, Richard Himes, said he's been aware of the problem since he assumed office in July.

So have Harrison County officials, including Elizabeth Keough, director of Animal Control and humane officer in Harrison County.

"The ordinance basically says you can't let your animals run on other peoples' property, or on other peoples' land," Keough said, referring to the 2005 county-wide ordinance.

That ordinance was updated last year to allow the humane officer to cite a person based off photographic evidence.

Keough says she and her colleagues usually issue a warning at first, to inform people they are in violation of the ordinance. But she suggests that repeat offenders are acting out of a "blatant disregard of the law."

In October, Mayor Himes allowed Keough to set up a 'humane trap' on the property of a man who had complained about dogs running loose in his yard.

Over the course of two weeks, they took in eight dogs.

While Keough says she's received backlash for using the trap, she insists this is in the animal's best interest.

You can see the extended conversation in the video above.