CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Charles Lovejoy lives on Coal River Road -- in Kanawha County, but outside of city limits. He also lives near three dogs that he says are terrorizing the neighborhood.
He's been complaining about the dogs for months but, partly because he lives in an unincorporated part of the county, hasn't been able to find a way to take action against the dogs.
"Something is going to happen to somebody," Lovejoy said. "It's summertime and a lot more people are going to be out on foot and riding a bicycle. Those dogs are going to get one of them."
Lovejoy hasn't been bitten, but his complaint is common among people who are afraid of the dogs: He thinks that some authority should be able to take action before the dogs hurt someone.
In fact, county officials can't do anything about a dog unless it's bitten someone -- a regulation meant to protect dog owners from the whims of their neighbors.
"A lot of times people say they're trying to bite, but there's just no way for us to know," said Donna Clark, executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association. "A lot of times it's that the neighbors are feuding. There are just so many situations that go on."
The problem doesn't exist in Charleston, where there's a city law that prohibits dogs from running free. But in the unincorporated parts of the county there is no such law. If a dog is wearing tags that prove it has its county license and a rabies vaccine, animal control officers have to let it run free.
Clark says she gets calls complaining about dogs without leashes in the county's unincorporated areas "all the time." But there's usually nothing she can do.