Friday, February 8, 2013

Gloucester Board of Supervisors Approve Discriminatory Animal Control Ordinances? Illegal To Own Grazing Animals Now?

The Gloucester County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday Night voted on and approved the new ordinance amending Gloucester County Code Chapter 3, dealing with Animal Control.  It is loaded with a bunch of serious issues from what we see.

The above link is to the section of the video where they are discussing and then approving the new ordinance.  The new ordinance is located at this link in it's entirety.  Section 3-4 has some very serious issues with it.  The title alone has serious implications for anyone who owns any animal that grazes.

Sec. 3-4.  Animals and fowl prohibited to be at large upon, or to graze alongside of, any
public street or highway.

It shall be unlawful for any person to permit any animal or fowl owned by him or in his
custody or under his control to run at large upon, or to graze alongside, any public street
or highway, whether such street or highway be enclosed by fence or not

Please define alongside.  There is no definition here and can mean anything.  It can be 10 feet from the roadside or 1,000 feet from the roadside.  No definition is given.  So if Animal Control drives by your property and you own a horse and the horse can be seen from the road, if the horse is grazing in public view, that is alongside the public road.  You are now a criminal?

  Also, if you happen to be riding a horse alongside the road, which is legal in the state of Virginia, if you happen to stop to let a few vehicles pass you safely and your horse decides to eat some grass that is growing there, you are now a criminal for allowing that to happen.  This is pure discrimination.  What if I was coming here from someplace like Lancaster County, PA where I just happen to be Amish?  I am thinking about bringing my family here to start a small community.  I would not be allowed to follow my beliefs based on this one ordinance alone.  That is discrimination.  It also discriminates against old order Mennonites that have similar beliefs to the Amish.  It also discriminates against anyone who owns equine that would like to be able to ride them in public, from which there is no state law that says you can not ride or drive equine in public.

  Sec. 3-16.  Allowing animals to defecate on public property or on private property of
other persons.

It shall be unlawful for any owner or person in control of any animal to allow any animal
to defecate on the property of other persons without their consent or that of the
authorized agent or person having control of the premises or on public property.
Immediate removal and sanitary disposal of the defecated matter shall not constitute a
violation of this section. The defecated matter shall be placed in a container and
disposed of in a proper waste receptacle.

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Are you serious?  What state law does this follow?  If someone is riding or driving a horse down a road and the horse emits it's natural exhaust, hence defecation, the owner has to get off their horse, somehow maintain the horse from moving and pick up the horses duty?  Was anyone thinking here when this was written?  Maybe you have to have someone walking behind the horse at all times ready with a shovel?  Again, this would be discrimination to anyone from an Amish or Mennonite Community and for anyone who owns equine that would like to ride or drive such in public.  What right does the county have to openly discriminate in such matters?  This again opens the county to potential lawsuits for discrimination in our view.  The ACLU could have a field day here.

Now if there is a consistent epidemic that could cause serious public health issues because of road apples, (equine defecation), then this ordinance would make sense as long as it was considered a temporary solution to such.  But this is not the case here.  Horse manure is not the same as dog manure.  Horse manure is made up mostly of grasses.  So if you have an animal that defecates on someone else's property and you do not go and pick it up right away, you are a criminal and can be charged as such and it goes on your permanent record.  We have not found any state laws that support this section in the way that it is written.

  We are looking at the rest of the new ordinance and we see other issues as well.  We will address them at a later date however.

As usual, we are not attorney's and this does not constitute legal advice.  Only an attorney can legally advice you.  We are simply questioning everything.

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