Wicomico County Dog Ordinance Raises Questions - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico County Dog Ordinance Raises Questions

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

SALISBURY, Md.- WBOC reported last week about Wicomico County's decision to take a look at its dog ordinance. The is looking to make changes based on complaints from the public, as well as to clear up some confusion and issues related to the ordinance's language.

Just a piece of that confusion stems from something as simple as a dog collar. The law itself says collars must be made of leather or nylon material. But what it does not say, is under what circumstances.

As written, that means the county's Humane Society appears to be in violation of its own ordinance.

Katherine Kendrick volunteers as a dog walker once a week at the Humane Society, where all of the dogs are walked using metal "choke collars."

According to Kendrick, they are necessary for dogs and humans alike.

"The difference between, especially when you're walking a dog as a volunteer, that you're not familiar with or it's a family that's coming to look at a dog that's adoptable, the dog won't get away from you in the lead and you have a little bit more control of where it goes," she said.

Control aside, the county's own ordinance states collars "shall be made of leather or nylon material."

According to the Humane Society, this applies to dogs that are tied up and kept outside, not those that are being walked on a leash. However, this is not specified anywhere in the ordinance.

At last week's council meeting, President Joe Holloway spoke with WBOC about the need for revisiting the law, stating, "As County Council, we have to be careful of the laws we create, to make sure they are enforceable."

Dr. Michael Peters, a veterinarian with Johnson-Mckee Animal Hospital in Salisbury, said metal choke collars can be dangerous and should never be used on dogs tied up outside.

As for walking, he said it all depends.

"Choke collars can be used very effectively and very humanely if they're used by someone that's caring, that's understanding of what their intent is," Peters explained. "But they can be used as an instrument of torture as well, if their animals are pulled up too tight and not allowed to breathe."

The Humane Society said it is aware of the need to change the ordinance and is working with the county to clear up any confusion.

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