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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Removed from the Jackson County Courthouse During a Tornado Warning - Pets Not Allowed - Citizens Not Informed


A report on my experience at the Jackson County Court House during the tornado warnings this evening, April 3, 2015, approximately 8:30-9:00PM. There were two radar reported tornadoes during this time frame on or near the Jackson-Madison County Line. My Weather Underground Radar subscription indicated one tornado near the Jackson - Madison County line near Gurley. At that point I left to go to the nearest storm shelter, the Jackson County Court House.

Unfortunately some folks employed by Jackson County do not realize the importance of pets to people in storms. I was removed from the Jackson County Court House this evening during the tornado warnings because I brought my pet with me. Never before had this been a problem with pets in the court house during storms.

Mr. Felix Jackson, EMA Representative stated I must remove my dog, my reply, “I would not leave until the storm was over.” Jackson informed me, “I could stay but the dog had to go because of insurance reasons.” Again he was informed, “I would leave as soon as the storm was over.” (BeBe, my dog, was in a harness and on a leash, very quiet and much behaved.) His reply, "the dog must go but you may stay," My reply, "no, I'm not leaving unless you get the Sheriff’s Department to make me leave," and he did. If I must remove my dog, I would not have been present in the shelter.

Mr. Jackson left for a few minutes and returned with two Sheriff’s Deputies, one Lieutenant and one Sargent. On that note, Mr. Jackson informed me, "the dog must go, but you may stay." Again I stated, "I'll leave as soon as the storm is over," again Jackson stated, "the dog cannot stay." I was not going to put my dog out into the storm, BeBe was given to me by my wife before she passed away. No way was I going to treat my beloved pet in such a fashion

The answer would have been to say this - "Mr. Morgan, dogs are no longer allowed in the Court House, as soon as the storm is over please take your dog out and remember that you may not bring your dog into the court house unless it is a service dog." When I left I informed Mr. Jackson, with the two Sheriff's Deputies present, "you have not heard the end of this." Mr. Jackson replied, "You know where I'm at."

There are no signs posted at any entrance or exit at the Jackson County Court House that pets, during a storm, are not allowed.

I've attended 99% of regular commission meetings where decisions are made by vote, and never has there been any notice or information placed into the public view or discussion during any meeting about no pets in the court house storm shelter. BeBe has been with me on several occasions in the court house to take shelter from inclement weather. Never has there been a problem until this evening, when BeBe and I were put out into the storm.

Update: April 4, 2015 - 4:00PM I have been informed by Face Book message by those present witnessing the incident in the courthouse storm shelter, there was at least one other small dog present and Mr. Jackson went straight for me immediately after my arrival. Within 5 minutes of my arrival Mr. Jackson was asking me to remove my dog. 

Discussing this incident with retired law enforcement, there is a question whether there is a law affecting Jackson County which prohibits pets from public storm shelters in Jackson County. 

Today there is a printer originated notice on the door of the storm shelter entrance that says, "No Pets Allowed." I saw no such notice last night posted on the door to the shelter entrance. When was there a county commission resolution passed stating this policy? After review of video and agendas for the past 3 years I can find no such policy approved by the Jackson County Commission. County Animal Control Ordinance passed by resolution contradicts the actions taken by officials of Jackson County.  

As it turns out, pets in shelters is a national problem, there is an answer, "pet carriers."

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