Second dog proposal gets chance next week in Whitehall
By KEVIN CORVO
Published: Thursday, June 26, 2008 9:09 AM EDT
Whitehall City Council members, after nearly five months of vigorous and sometimes unfriendly debate, are poised to adopt an ordinance setting new standards concerning the harboring of vicious animals in the city.
The ordinance is scheduled for a third and final reading at the next meeting of City Council at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 1 at Whitehall City Hall, 360 S. Yearling Road.
The ordinance was discussed for perhaps the final time at the June 24 meeting of council committees.
Councilwoman Jackie Thompson, whose ordinance banning pit bulls was defeated 5-2 at the June 3 council meeting, continued to press for assurance that all dogs that state law deems to be vicious are subject to the restrictions within Whitehall's proposed ordinance.
Councilman Robert Bailey, the author of the alternative ordinance, was absent from the June 24 meeting, but Council President Brent Howard and City Attorney Mike Shannon responded to her inquires.
"You should state for the public exactly what this new law will and will not do," said Thompson, who voiced concern that the language in the city's ordinance is too weak.
Thompson's failed ordinance grandfathered one vicious dog but permitted no others to lawfully enter the city, thus ensuring one day that no such dogs could be lawfully harbored.
Bailey's ordinance does not address the number of dogs permitted in the city; instead, it allows the current limit of three dogs to prevail.
It is also breed-neutral, using the Ohio Revised Code definition of vicious dogs, which the state has interpreted to include a "breed of dog commonly known as the pit bull."
Thompson said she is concerned the vagueness of the language will allow dogs such as American Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers to remain in Whitehall.
"This ordinance does nothing more to protect the public," Thompson said.
"I greatly disagree with you," responded Howard, adding the state law covers any breed judged to be pit bull.
Councilman Jim Graham said he understood how people could be confused because of the subjective nature of determining whether a given dog is a pit bull, which in itself is not a breed.
"I know a pit bull when I see one," Thompson replied.
Council members discussed a June 14 incident during the city's Music in the Park series at John Bishop Park in which an adult reportedly challenged a juvenile to fight their pit bulls.
A parent of the juvenile reportedly argued with another person, causing a brief disturbance involving about a dozen people, but the details of the incident were never determined.
Councilman Wesley Kantor said it was another example of people causing the problems.
Thompson suggested banning all dogs from parks at times when large groups of children are gathered.
"This is the USA ... how would you like to not be able to take your dogs to the park?" Kantor said.
Shannon said he would ascertain whether state law considers the specific breeds Thompson named to be vicious and report his findings prior to the July 1 meeting.
The proposed ordinance proscribes a litany of requirements for harboring vicious dogs, including a combination of leashing, muzzling and microchipping. Owners must register the dog, maintain liability insurance and keep the dog inside a secured six-foot fence.
http://www.snponline.com/articles/2008/ ... 39pm_5.txt
Bless the Bullys