Recently, our rescue received a letter from Assistant County Attorney Chase Collins advising us that we are in violation of county ordinance for burning and composting dog waste (poop.) Interestingly, state code does not support the county's position on this. We'd like to extend our thanks to the legal-eagle Steemians who have had our back regarding this issue. We sincerely hope this response to the County Attorney will put an end to this dispute. If not, we'll move on to the next step.
From Our Director
My email provider attempted on three different occasions over the course of 72 hours to deliver an email response to Chase Collins, Assistant Tazewell County Attorney. This was regarding the county’s assertion that Tazewell ARC must deposit all animal waste at the landfill and report annually on the poundage of said waste. On each occasion, the response was “bounced” by the server with this message: “generic::failed precondition: connect error (0): error .” Mr. Collins will also be receiving a letter by certified mail that contains the following:
Dear Mr. Collins:
I have reviewed and considered your letter of May 24, 2018, and while I fully support local county ordinance as I am on record saying, that can only be to the extent that such ordinances are legal and not in contravention of state law.
In this case, the view of the county attorney’s office appears to fail to take into account state law definitions of solid waste (see 9VAC20-81-95) and the exception for the returning to the soil of animal manure and animal bedding. Please note that definitions found in 3.2-6500 make a clear and salient distinction between “livestock,” “agricultural animals,” and the broader term “animals.” Since the term “animals” is used in the state code list of exemptions, there is little room for creative interpretation. Also mentioned conditionally as exemptions in 9VAC20-81-95 are clean wood, paper, and paper products. We meet those conditions, and therefore reserve the right to burn clean wood and paper products on our property at appropriate and legal times.
As such, while I can comply with the county’s request to discontinue the incineration of dog waste, I have determined that I can compost the dog waste on my property without reporting to the County. We own seven mountainous acres and the need for composted material to use as soil improvement is great. Johnson’s Branch of Cavitt’s Creek runs the entire length of our property. Volunteers and animals swim, wade, and play in those waters on a regular basis. There is also a ground spring, samples of which we intend to submit for Bac-T testing in hopes it can be used as a source of natural drinking water for the animals. All wildlife living along this stretch of creek including fish and other aquatic species, amphibians, birds, snakes, turtles, mink, deer, squirrels, raccoons, and muskrat are protected in that we prohibit the killing of any of them on these grounds—sometimes at great inconvenience. It is preposterous for any “source” to suggest that we contaminate the waters they live in and drink from, and such a claim demonstrates a glaring lack of familiarity with our day-to-day operations.
Furthermore, any change to local ordinance or state law that classifies domestic animal waste as reportable “solid waste” would affect not only our rescue, but all animal shelters, humane societies, exotic zoos and sanctuaries, dog breeding operations, veterinary boarding facilities, and kennels owned by hunting communities. A 501c3 home-based rescue cannot be singled out from all the above-listed holders of domestic animals to be the only entity subject to such a law.
Thank you for your time.