Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


September 7, 2012

Code enforcement — New challenges for Tazewell deputies

Catching two alligators, a couple of horses and 136 stray dogs may not sound like a day’s work for a deputy sheriff. However, with the addition of a new code enforcement division at the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office, animal control complaints in the county are now being handled by deputy sheriffs.

And the change seems to be making a positive difference. Statistics from the sheriff’s office show that in the first three months that the new code enforcement division has been up and running, the deputies have answered 311 animal complaints, 18 animal attacks and nine calls of livestock in the highway.

After responding to a variety of calls the officers have impounded 136 dogs, two horses, and even two alligators, according to Tazewell County Sheriff Brian Hieatt. The deputies assigned to this division have charged at least three people with animal cruelty, and are still investigating the case involving the rare discovery of two alligators in deep Southwest Virginia.

The county Board of Supervisors voted in May to create the new code enforcement division. The animal complaint calls had previously been handled by conservators of the peace.

The deputies working the new code enforcement division are charged with responding to not only animal complaints, but also litter problems and illegal junkyards. Hieatt said the added officers will be concentrating on several dump sites located across the county, and will be aggressively pursuing and charging people who illegally litter. We are glad to hear that as litter is still a significant problem in our region.

Anyone who has an animal or litter concern can call the code enforcement division of the sheriff’s office at 276-988-1160, and anyone interested in looking at or adopting one of the many dogs that have been impounded can visit the Tazewell County Animal Shelter or contact the animal shelter at 276-988-5795.

Mike Hymes, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, believes the new code enforcement division under the sheriff’s office is working well. And the impressive statistics to date from the new code enforcement division would appear to suggest that Hymes is correct.

The deputies involved in the new code enforcement division are to be applauded for their hard work to date. Responding to animal complaints isn’t easy, but it is still a necessity in communities and neighborhoods across the county. And it is critical for county officials to keep the region’s litter problem under control.

We wish the deputies of the new code enforcement division at the sheriff’s office the best of luck in the days, weeks and months ahead.

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