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Culpeper supervisors vote on animal ordinance

Date published: 11/6/2008

Although most agreed that some of the definitions made no sense, the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors last night amended its code on animals and fowl to bring it in line with state law.

Of particular concern were definitions of feral cats, feral dogs and wolves as companion animals.

"They're saying that a non-companion animal is a companion animal," argued Supervisor Tom Underwood, who had last month sought to eliminate the "feral" references from the local ordinance.

County attorney Roy Thorpe, however, said that would not be possible in a Dillon Rule state.

"We don't have the authority to change such definitions," he told the board.

Chairman Bill Chase asked why bother to change the county's ordinance at this time?

Thorpe replied that it was necessary to update the county's ordinance so that animal control officers could work cases in both the county and the town, which already uses the state definition.

During a public hearing, Robert Simpson asked if his cats, which never come inside the house, would be considered feral under the law. Underwood said they would not because they were owned.

Supervisor Bradley Rosenberger asked that the board's legislative committee try to get the "feral" definitions changed in the General Assembly.

"People shoot feral hogs in this state seven days a week," he said.

Thorpe summed up his definition of the "feral" law by saying: "A wild animal is not a wild animal unless it is wild."

Only Underwood voted against the code amendment.

--Donnie Johnston

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