O'Fallon City Council re-evaluates dog ordinance after fatal attack
By Elizabeth Perry
Saturday, June 21, 2008 11:16 AM CDT
A frightening attack on a tiny dog is causing the O'Fallon City Council to re-examine the city's animal control ordinance.
On Memorial Day, O'Fallon resident Nancy Duncan and her 7-year-old great-granddaughter took their Yorkie, Daisy, over to visit their neighbor, Lisa Powell.
They expected to paint Daisy's nails; instead, the neighbor's two pit bulls attacked and killed the little dog.Police were called to the incident, but officers told the Duncans nothing could be done because the attack occurred at the neighbor's residence.
According to the city ordinance, an animal can only be defined as vicious if it attacks and kills an animal "off its owner's property."
Powell's dogs were not microchipped at the time. Microchips are used to identify dogs that have bitten other animals or people.
O'Fallon Police Lt. John Neske said the dogs were microchipped Friday.
Police Chief Jerry Schulte said the dogs should have been microchipped when they were taken into quarantine after the attack.
"It slipped through the cracks," Schulte said.
In O'Fallon, if a dog is declared vicious or dangerous, the owners have the choice of destroying it or moving it out of the city, Schulte said.
"Our family misses Daisy every day, but as I told the police officer, I was glad that it wasn't one of the kids in the street," Nancy Duncan said during the June 12 City Council meeting.
Powell said the incident was tragic, but the dogs she owns are not vicious toward people.
According to state law, the pit bulls should have been identified with a microchip, said Theresa Williams, director of St. Charles County's Division of Humane Services.
Williams said in a phone interview that she helped the Duncans adopt Daisy as a gift for the great-granddaughter last July. Their great-granddaughter and grandson live with them.
Williams said the county takes into account the situation surrounding an incident like this before declaring a dog vicious.
However, according to the St. Charles County ordinance, the dogs that killed Daisy probably would have been destroyed, Williams said.
Schulte said the department is working with the city attorney to amend the O'Fallon ordinance.
Proposed changes could close the loophole that exempts dogs who bite animals or people on their own property from being monitored with a microchip.
Williams said she was told the changes to the current O'Fallon ordinance would be discussed during the council's workshop meeting Thursday, and that the city has contacted the Duncans.
When a reporter visited Powell's home, both dogs were there, along with a Chihuahua and Powell's child. The pit bulls seemed under control at the time, and one dog allowed the reporter to pet it before it licked her hand.
Powell said her family was being evicted from the house because of the incident.
A representative from Advantage Homes, the company that owns the house Powell's family rents, said the family's lease was terminated because Advantage's insurance doesn't allow residents to keep rottweilers or pit bulls.
Advantage representative Christine Hollis said the family violated their lease agreement by keeping the two big dogs.
"They were pretty good tenants besides that," Hollis said.
Karl Duncan, Nancy's husband, said he is pleased the City Council is looking into amending the dog ordinance.
"I'll be more pleased to see how they handle it," Karl Duncan said.
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Bless the Bullys