Allow dog training

Published 9:32 am Friday, August 12, 2011

Letting a Walters company use a number of rural sites for daytime training of military and police dogs is a terrific opportunity for Southampton County to be patriotic and to support Western Tidewater’s economy.

We urge the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals to approve the request by American K-9 Interdiction for a special-use exception to the county’s zoning ordinance. A public hearing is planned for 7:30 p.m. Monday at the County Government Center in Courtland.

Fair or not, Western Tidewater is developing a reputation in the region for NIMBY-ism (Not in My Back Yard) and for being unpatriotic. Southampton County and Isle of Wight county supervisors and the Franklin City Council had good reasons to oppose the Navy’s use of their respective localities for pilot training. Collectively, however, that opposition sent a message to many that our citizens are anti-military. That’s an unfair label, but it has been applied routinely to Franklin, Southampton and Isle of Wight in recent years.

On the economic-development front, Isle of Wight supervisors seem poised to formally oppose a coal-fired electricity plant in Surry County — a project that would almost certainly have negative environmental consequences but would create sorely needed jobs and pump huge money into one of the state’s poorest counties.

At some point, our area needs to be for something.

Supporting American K-9 Interdiction’s use of nine sites in the county for training of dogs to detect explosives is a small but significant gesture. Well-trained dogs are critical to the efforts of soldiers abroad and police officers here at home. It is also a chance to be supportive of one of Western Tidewater’s newest employers, a company that has given a big boost to southern Isle of Wight County and is very likely to grow in the years ahead.

Will noise at the dog-training sites be an inconvenience for the handful of residents who live close by? Yes, but not much of one. It’s certainly not enough of a nuisance to justify snubbing a worthy project that’s good for the military, law enforcement and the region’s economy.