Cumberland Times-News

February 7, 2013

McKay hammers accusations against animal control, police

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Allegany County Commission President Michael McKay is tired of what he said are exaggerated accusations about the county’s animal control officers and police as well.

After one citizen, who regularly attends meetings and criticizes animal control, said he was attacked by a pit bull and received no response from animal control, McKay ordered an investigation.

“This particular citizen has been coming for over a year to complain,” he said.

While McKay said he wants to be open to citizen comments and questions, he’s tired of baseless accusations.

McKay made his statements at Thursday’s Allegany County commission meeting.

“We have dealt with this for over a year. ... It needs to stop,” he said.

McKay was referring to Kenneth Wilmot, who said in a January commission meeting that he was attacked by a pit bull in the neighborhood in which he lives.

Wilmot regularly attends meetings and charges animal control officials with being unresponsive to complaints, among other objections regarding animal control.  

McKay had J. Robert Dick, the county’s chief of public safety, investigate the response to the incident.

Wilmot said he was not injured or bitten in the incident because he was able to reach a neighbor’s home to escape from the dog.

Dick said his investigation found Wilmot’s claims unsubstantiated, and that both animal control and Cumberland City Police responded in a timely manner when the neighbor Wilmot was with called 911.

Wilmot is not charged with violating any law and is not accused of making any false statements.

Wilmot was not at the meeting Thursday.

When contacted by the Times-News by phone, Wilmot said he believed Dick made a fair investigation. He wouldn’t venture whether his opinion on animal control had changed.

“He’s privy to information I don’t have. ...  There’s nothing a private citizen can do,” Wilmot said.

McKay said a bill is in the General Assembly to penalize false claims against a government entity. House Bill 509 would provide for penalties, including fines and potential civil liability, for anyone making such false claims.

Damaging the credibility of law enforcement can have serious consequences be-cause public trust in the police is undermined, McKay said.

McKay asked County Administrator David Eberly to draft a letter to Wilmot about the findings.

McKay said he’d rather Wilmot talk to him privately, or approach the county’s Animal Control Advisory Board, before making public allegations.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com