On Sunday, August 24th, 2014 we did a story about how Animal Control Deputy Laura Dickie was about ready to break a window on a vehicle to remove an animal from a car because the animal was left in the car by itself and without air conditioning and would have been removed to an animal control truck for transportation, without air conditioning. Well, that story by itself is horrific, however, can anyone actually blame the Animal Control officer for doing a job she has been told she must do? Who is actually to blame? What if she had actually broken in the window and was seriously hurt by doing so or maimed by the dog in the vehicle? Who would have been at fault?
Again, in our view, the local ordinance, 3-18 is itself highly illegal. The above poster highly misleading and posted in the following locations, Wal Mart front doors, Tractor Supply, and Dollar Tree. Who approved these posters? Ted Wilmot is the county attorney who wrote this law or at least finalized approval for the Board of Supervisors to vote on and approve. That was done in February, 2013. 4 present Board members approved that and now we have 3 new board members who had nothing to do with this.
So that would mean the Ted Wilmot and 4 present Board of Supervisors would then be responsible for any harm that comes to any Animal Control deputy who follows this insane ordinance and gets hurt or even killed in the process? There is also a great deal of responsibility by the County Administrator and Assistant Administrator for allowing this crazy ordinance to be on the books.
Again, here is a recap of that ordinance;
Sec. 3-18. Animals in enclosed vehicles
(a) It shall be unlawful to leave any animal in a vehicle without the benefit of air conditioning when the outside temperature reaches eighty (80) degrees fahrenheit or greater.
(b) Any person who confines an animal in an unattended vehicle so as to cause the animal to suffer from heat stress, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The animal control officer or other officer shall have the authority to remove any animal found in an enclosed vehicle that appears to be suffering from heat stress. The animal shall be provided immediate veterinary care. The animal owner or custodian shall be responsible for all expenses incurred during the removal of the animal or its subsequent treatment and impoundment.
(c) In the event that the person responsible for the violation cannot be ascertained, the registered owner of the vehicle, as required by Chapter 6 of Title 46.2 of the Code of Virginia, shall constitute in evidence a prima facie presumption that such registered owner was the person who committed the violation.
(Ord. of 7-1-2008(1), § (2); Ord. of 2-5-2013(1))
There is also a certain degree of fault by each animal control officer as each one is required to know state code and they should also know that if a local ordinance is out of compliance with state code, then the local ordinance is not legal according to the Dillon Rule. Virginia is considered a Dillon Rule state. It seems rather clear that the county has no issues with maintaining this ordinance and will continue to prosecute anyone and everyone they can with such until someone gets seriously hurt, sued, or even worse, killed. Why? Because the county thinks they can milk this for some serious money in our view. The safety of employees? Well, they can be replaced.
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