Park City, IL proposed dog law draws public comment

Pits in the news and info on Breed Specific Legislation.

Postby cheekymunkee » June 24th, 2008, 9:53 pm

Park City's proposed dog law draws public comment
Avoid being breed-specific, owners say

BY ED COLLINS Special to the News-Sun

PARK CITY -- Aldermen received several constructive suggestions from local dog owners Thursday night regarding revision of the dog licensing ordinance.

The advice ranged from eliminating dog licenses entirely to avoiding derogatory references in the ordinance to breed-specific animals, such as pit bulls.

The subject came up at a council meeting two weeks ago when Ald. Jack Palmieri told members about his unnerving encounter recently with two aggressive pit bulls that were tied to a tree in his neighborhood. When he checked records, he found the city's dog ordinance was incomplete and out of date.

Palmieri's report spurred research into the issue and the council then empowered both Police Chief Walter Holderbaum and City Attorney Peter Karlovics to suggest improvements to include in the ordinance. A proposed draft is scheduled for discussion at the July 17 council meeting.

However, the subject came up again Thursday night when 15 pet owners attended the council meeting and presented personal thoughts on the subject under the agenda's public comments section.

Resident Suzanne Ross, a pit bull owner, suggested that any revised ordinance should not be focused on any specific breed, such as pit bulls, because she said any dog could be a public menace if not properly controlled.

"I own a pit bull, and he is one of the sweetest, most lovable pets I have ever owned," Ross said.

Mayor Steve Pannell said the council was not considering banning pit bulls.

"Our intent is to preserve the public's safety by providing protection from vicious dogs that bite," he said. "Both Alderman Christiansen and I own pit bulls, and we've never had any control problems with them," the mayor said.

Ross also objected to being required to maintain a $100,000 liability policy insuring against personal injury or property, as was suggested at the last council meeting. She said limited coverage of no more than $25,000 should be sufficient.

Another suggestion was to eliminate dog licenses entirely since it is not practical or cost-effective for a small community to enforce. It was pointed out that the county provides an adequate rabies control program.

Much of the crafting of a new ordinance will fall on City Attorney Karlovics.

Based upon the public input received, he said he would eliminate any breed-specific language in the draft ordinance, develop an appropriate legal definition for "vicious dog" and provide police with the authority to issue warnings and citations of ordinance infractions.

Aldermen agreed that those dogs defined as "vicious" would need to be separated from the public by being kept indoors, or if outdoors, be enclosed by a six-foot fence. Also, they agreed that no dogs of any kind should be tied to trees.

"We have received some very good suggestions tonight that will help us in drafting an improved ordinance," Pannell said. "The comments made were both constructive and beneficial." ... S1.article

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