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Kelley Returns, Lobbies for Animals Hearing Board
Prince Frederick, MD - 9/29/2011
By Marty Madden
A familiar voice was heard Tuesday, Sept. 27 during the Calvert County Commissioners’ meeting. Linda L. Kelley, who served four terms as commissioner, was one of four residents offering remarks during the meeting’s public comment segment.
The cause Kelley was advocating was a familiar one—it involved domestic animals.
“You have a hearing on the budget, you’re lucky to get 10 people. You have a hearing on a leash law, you’re going to have standing room only,” quipped Kelley, who led the effort to rewrite Calvert’s Animal Control Ordinance.
The former commissioner’s two concerns were the failure of the county government to establish an animal matters hearing board and the current statute regarding animals deemed dangerous.
Kelley had pushed for the establishment of the animal matters hearing board as a way to get citizen disputes involving animals a better venue for airing. Currently, such disputes must be adjudicated in the court system.
“The courts don’t want to hear these cases,” Kelley said later, adding that the disputes often languish for months.
Instead, creating a citizens’ panel to arbitrate the cases, “would be the way to go,” Kelley stated. “You’d get a quicker resolution.”
Having the cases heard before the animal matters board would be by invitation rather than subpoena.
Kelley also asked the commissioners to revisit Part 9 of the Animal Control Ordinance because she felt Calvert’s Animal Control Unit officers were “hamstrung” by some of the criteria.
According to the ordinance, “any animal that, without provocation, wounds, bites, injures or kills a human being, another animal or livestock, or is being trained or has been trained to attack shall be designated by the Animal Control Division as dangerous.”
Additionally, animals deemed dangerous by another jurisdiction or state is automatically deemed dangerous in Calvert County. The owner is required to register the animal as dangerous with the Animal Control Division.
“We need more responsible owners and less onerous laws,” said Peggy O’Donnell of Lusby, who like Kelley, asked the commissioners to revisit the ordinance.
The Calvert County Animal Control Ordinance is posted on the sheriff’s office’s web site, www.cal.md.us/residents/safety/law/sheriff
Contact Marty Madden at firstname.lastname@example.org
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