Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

September 2, 2012

Tazewell Sheriff’s new Code Enforcement Division keeping watchful eye on animals, litter

TAZEWELL, Va. — Two alligators, two horses and 136 dogs are among the animals impounded after a new branch of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office, the Code Enforcement Division, answered 311 animal complaints.

In May, the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors moved the positions they had for conservators of the peace to deputy sheriffs positions that are part of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Brian Hieatt said. These positions are responsible for animal complaints, litter problems, and illegal junkyards.

Hieatt said that in the three months the division has been operating, the new officers have had a big impact on getting stray dogs picked up and investigating cases of animal cruelty.

“Just in the last week they have picked up a dozen stray dogs, two horses and two alligators,” Hieatt said.

The county’s code enforcement division has answered 311 animal complaints, investigated 18 animal attacks, and responded to nine calls about livestock on highways.

“Deputies assigned to this division have charged at least three people with animal cruelty, and are looking at possible charges stemming from a Tazewell County residence where one of the alligators was taken,” Hieatt said. “The residence, which is located on the Governor G.C. Peery Highway, also contained three dogs, five cats, and three dead Sugar Gliders.”

A recent animal cruelty case resulted in an arrest, Hieatt said. Kimberly Nunley, no age available, of North Tazewell, Va. is being held in lieu of a $5,000 secured bond at the Southwest Regional Jail in  Tazewell, Va. The arrest was made after they investigated the death of a horse Nunley owned.

   Besides animal control, the new division will also focus on the county’s continuing litter problem, Hieatt said. The added officers will be concentrating on several dump sites located across the county, and they will be aggressively pursuing and charging people who are littering.

 Anyone who has an animal control or litter concern can call the code enforcement division of the sheriff’s office at 276-988-1160, Hieatt said. People interested in seeing and adopting any of the impounded dogs can visit the Tazewell County Animal Shelter or call the shelter at 276-988-5795.

The alligators and horses have also been taken to the animal shelter, Hieatt said.

Chairman Mike Hymes of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors said the supervisors will discuss scheduling a public hearing in October on a modified animal control ordinance.

“I think since we are currently without a full board, it is premature to have a hearing on a new ordinance,” he said. The proposed ordinance is now being reviewed by several groups.

Hymes said that he announced earlier in the year that one of his priorities as chairman would be to evaluate all the county ordinances to make sure they are being effective and serving the purpose for which they were intended.

“This is just the next one we are reviewing and updating,” he said.

“We turned animal control over to the sheriff several months ago and it has worked quite well for the citizens and the sheriff,” Hymes added.

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