Fries to hold pet owners responsible for animal antics

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Barking dogs, animals running loose and pets without vaccination are issues town wants to tame.

By Patrick Smith

FRIES — While a dog barked somewhere outside the meeting, as if in protest, Fries Town Council at its April meeting took action on an ordinance to address animal noises and other responsibilities of pet owners.
Council members had heard concerns from citizens for some time about noise from barking dogs.
The town passed amendments to its “nuisance ordinance,” which defines what is considered an animal nuisance, prohibits pets and animals from running unsupervised through town, requires pets to be vaccinated for rabies and designates a person as the town’s animal warden.
The ordinance has been a work in progress for council since it was originally discussed in the February meeting. Council members met with officials like Assistant County Administrator Mitch Smith, Grayson Sheriff Richard Vaughan, Chief Animal Control Officer Glen Richardson and Commonwealth’s Attorney Doug Vaught to help form the final draft.
Mayor Gary Sumner said all parties involved agreed that the ordinance would be enforceable. He explained that Grayson County Sheriff’s Department would enforce the new rules as part of its agreement with Fries to provide police protection and enforce all town ordinances.
According to the draft, violation of any portion of the ordinance will be considered a Class 3 misdemeanor.
Fries citizen Terry Akers said during a previous meeting that it is the responsibility of pet owners to stop the noise problems. “It’s your responsibility to be a good neighbor,” he said. “About every town has a dog ordinance saying if your dog does this, you’ll be penalized ... I own a dog. When it barks, I deal with it. Yes, dogs will still bark, but it’s your responsibility as a pet owner to acknowledge the problem.”
“I have first-hand knowledge that this needs to be addressed,” agreed Sumner.
Council Member Jerry McCormick motioned to approve the new ordinance, and council followed his lead with a unanimous vote.

In other action:
• Fries Fire Chief Robbie Carrico reported that the department answered 84 percent of all rescue calls in March, and one member of the department is now a certified pyrotechnician, able to set off fireworks.

• Sumner said he met with Grayson Schools Superintendent Kevin Chalfant, a representative from Virginia Department of Transportation, the Army Corp of Engineers, building official Jimmy Moss and others about ways to prevent flooding at Fries School. He said it was a positive meeting and the town has some opportunities to fix the problem.

• Council appointed Marie Isom to represent Fries on the Mount Rogers Planning District Commision.