By Catharin Shepard •
Staff writer •
Hoke County last week disbanded a committee of volunteers tasked with examining the animal control ordinance and suggesting improvements. The county cited a lack of participation from the volunteers.
Many of the committee members had stopped attending meetings, according to the committee chairwoman.
Committee Chairwoman Ellen Bradford announced the decision in a letter to the editor sent to the News-Journal this week. The county informed her that it was disbanding the committee, she wrote.
Bradford approached the commissioners at their regularly scheduled meeting earlier this month during the public comment period to tell them a number of members of the 18-person volunteer committee were no longer active. Bradford described problems the committee was having, and asked the commissioners for guidance on what to do.
They weren’t often able to have a voting quorum due to the number of people who failed to show up, though they were working less officially to try and continue the improvement process, Bradford told the board. Some of the members felt that the committee was not what they expected it to be when they got involved, she added in comments.
Commissioners directed Bradford to discuss the matter with board Clerk, Gwen McGougan, to pursue replacing the committee members who stopped attending meetings. Bradford said in her letter that she received a message February 20 notifying her of the county’s decision to disband the group.
The animal control ordinance review committee started last year as one of several measures commissioners employed to deal with a series of reported dog attacks on farm animals in Hoke County. The committee wanted to come up with a “comprehensive enforceable animal ordinance in accordance with state law,” Bradford previously told the News-Journal.
The county additionally hired more Animal Control officers, and a professional tracker who attempted to find the dogs and their owner. At one point during the spate of attacks, officers staked out several locations around the clock where the dogs had killed dozens of goats and other livestock. The officers also set humane live traps for the loose dogs.
However, despite their efforts, Animal Control was not able to capture any of the dogs or locate any owners. No one was charged in connection with the incidents.
Several of the livestock owners who lost animals reported having success in protecting their herds with livestock guardian dogs. A number of people in the Five Points area where the attacks took place also reported firing guns at the dogs, but did not hit any of them.