PETA suggests animal care ordinance in Northampton

Published 6:50 pm Friday, August 2, 2019

JACKSON – Two letters recently sent to the Northampton County Commissioners urge the Board to consider implementing an animal care standards ordinance which will promote better treatment for pets throughout the county.

These letters, dated July 23 and 24, were sent by the animal welfare organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) after visits to the county found some pets in deplorable conditions. In order to get animals the help they need, PETA requested to meet with the Board as soon as possible in order to discuss the issue.

The first letter noted the heatwave in July where the heat index rose as high as 113 degrees. During that time, PETA fieldworkers found many dogs within the county were kept chained or penned outside 24 hours a day without adequate access to water, shade, or shelter.

“We did what we could by filling water buckets, moving dogs to shaded areas, and trying to educate residents about basic animal care and needs, but these dogs are suffering,” stated the letter, which was signed by Rachel Bellis, the Manager of Local Affairs for PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department.

The first letter detailed two dogs—one from a residence in Margarettsville and the other in Rich Square—which were both found deceased, presumably from heatstroke. The first dog had been lying under a cement shed and had not been checked on for days according to the owner. The second was found chained to his doghouse.

PETA collected the dogs’ remains, and notified Northampton County’s Animal Cruelty Investigator Kevin Byrum in case charges were to follow.

“We are doing all we can, but we cannot get to these animals fast enough, and we desperately need your help. It is just a matter of time before another heatwave hits the area,” the letter explained.

The second letter described another cruelty case discovered in Conway. The dog in this situation was suffering from a severely infected neck wound from embedded collars, and he had also been chained 24 hours a day without veterinary care. The owners agreed to surrender the dog to PETA.

“We hope these cases help illustrate the urgency of this issue. Please consider us a resource and let us know how we can help get an animal care standards/tethering ordinance in place in order to prevent additional animal suffering in Northampton County,” the second letter concluded.

Deputy Byrum told the News-Herald he had seen many dogs in terrible conditions, and he would continue to follow the law and take action when necessary.

“We’re just trying to make the public aware how to better treat their dogs, and what the law says they can and cannot do,” he explained, noting current law requires domesticated animals have access to shade, water, food, and bedding.

“A dog can’t take the heat like a human can. In 30 minutes or so, a dog can be dead,” he continued. “We just want people to be aware, especially in (unusual heat) situations like we had this year, that they have to take different measures than what they normally do. Bring the dog inside or at least under a shelter.”

Byrum said he hoped if a new ordinance was approved, it would be implemented over a period of time to make it easier for people to follow. He also thanked PETA for the work they do in Northampton County.

“We’re two totally separate organizations, but we certainly appreciate every bit of the help PETA gives us and what they do for our community,” he concluded.

Commissioners Board Chair Charles Tyner told the News-Herald he hadn’t seen the PETA letters yet, but “we’ll certainly look at it.”