Keep your damn hands off my cute dogs, Waynesboro

One of my yorkies, Bella. Waynesboro is making me choose whether she gets to stay, or has to go. Photo by Chris Graham.

I tried to do a deep dive to get a handle on the motivation behind the proposed amendment to the Waynesboro city ordinance governing the housing of dogs, cats and other animals in the city.

It’s hard to do a deep dive, I’d soon find, when the pool is dry.

Nothing in terms of a motivation, reasoning or anything resembling a good excuse to make the changes proposed was given in the agenda briefing matter sent to City Council members and posted publicly on the city website.

So, we have to assume, it’s out of the thin air.

So, you own more than four dogs, five cats, 10 chickens, any number of roosters, which you’re doing now and have done reasonably for any number of years, and you’re about to be an outlaw – that, or you’ve got some soul-searching to do.

Which is bad enough, that people – me, included, because I own six dogs, between the sizes of five pounds and 17 pounds – have to consider getting rid of members of their families because of a pending arbitrary as hell law change.

Over my dead body, is how and when that will happen.

Anyway, here’s what makes it worse: nobody is asking for this change.

How you can tell? The people who wrote the proposed new law didn’t provide a scintilla of justification in their memo to City Council members.

The presentation in the memo comes across as an effort by a lowly staffer to clean up a section of city code for lack of anything better to do.

If this was something that was necessary, we’d have illustrative horror stories about a person with five dogs or six cats or 11 chickens terrorizing their neighbors with incessant barking, meowing, crowing, whatever.

Then we’d have data provided on how many people in the city are known and estimated to harbor more than the newly recommended number of animals, and projections on how the quality of life in the city will improve once the newly written ordinance is made law.

We get none of that.

What we get is a vague reference to bringing the city code into line with the Code of Virginia, which doesn’t actually spell out a specific number.

The guiding ordinance does allow localities to set their own limits, which is why you see Roanoke County allowing three dogs and six cats, Virginia Beach allows four dogs, then sets kennel and cattery license fees starting at five dogs and five cats that require a conditional use permit.

Norfolk allows four dogs and four cats.

Richmond allows three adult pets of any variety.

So, the numbers four and six in relation to dogs and cats in Waynesboro – out of the thin air.

With nobody clamoring for the change.

With not even the staff person pushing for the change able to tell us how it will make life in the city better.

This is a solution looking for a problem, a hammer looking for a nail.

The person responsible for drafting this ordinance and the memo to City Council needs a couple of weeks of unpaid leave to consider his, her or their sins.

The city manager who thought it was appropriate to forward this nonsense to the City Council for consideration should be advised to start polishing up his resume.

Any City Council member thinking of voting for this bullshit will be reminded that there are always elections around the corner.

Story by Chris Graham

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