Albemarle Police Department Hosts First Animal Summit - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Albemarle Police Department Hosts First Animal Summit

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Monday night, the Albemarle County Police Department hosted its first ever Animal Summit.  One county ordinance in particular drew in a large crowd.  Several hunters expressed concern about what the ordinance could mean for the future of their sport.

The issue in question was regarding the county code that prohibits dogs running at large, which means dogs off their own property must be in immediate control of their owner.  But Monday night, panelists were able to give reassurance that hunting is an exception.

It was a sea of orange and camouflage at Albemarle County's first Animal Summit. Dozens of hunters who use dogs were anxious to learn what the county's "no dogs running at large" ordinance means for them.

"They don't have to be tied; they don't have to be in a pen as long as they stay on their property," said Kim Maddox with Albemarle County Animal Control.  "And if they are with their owner off of their property, they need to be under immediate control."

Andy Mills, a hunter, said, "We look forward to hunting about five weeks out of the year with these dogs and the next thing you know, we're getting calls from sheriff's department , people to pick our dogs up, along with a ticket up to a $250 fine."

Although the crowd came into the meeting fired up about the issue, animal control reminded them about what the code states as it relates to hunting.  It says, "A dog shall not be considered at large, if during the hunting season it is on a bona fide hunt in the company of a licensed hunter…"

"It's when it's an organization or organized hunt, they can also be like field trials or dog shows," Maddox said.

Hunters had the chance to speak with the representatives after the meeting and ask specific questions one on one.  Overall, animal control says the meeting served its intended purpose to provide information and clear up any misconceptions.

Maddox said, "And if they can have the tracking collars so that they are able to locate, since they know that their dogs are not going to be right in eye sight of them, so that they can try to locate them by the end of that day."

"We want to do the right thing, all people got to do is treat us right," said Mills.  "Leave the dogs alone. We've got the tracking collars and the antennas.  We will come and get the dog."

Violation could include up to a $250 fine.  An example of a violation would be turning your dog loose, or going hunting on a Saturday and not looking for it until the following weekend.  The agency says it will look at all circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

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