Committee hears dog options
Tuesday, 01 July 2008
By MIKE BURKHOLDER
ST. MARYS — Members of a city committee Monday night were briefed on possible options for tweaking the city’s ordinance regarding dangerous dogs and dogs running-at-large. City Law Director Kraig Noble presented St. Marys Safety Committee members with examples of possible ordinance ranging from dangerous dogs to dog litter during Monday’s meeting.
The meeting was the third in a series of committee meetings targeting dog laws in the city.
“This is our effort to update several aspects of our ordinances,” Noble told committee members. “The first is the cornerstone of our issues.”
The ordinance Noble referenced calls for the creation of an administrative board of appeals for dogs deemed to be dangerous. The board gives residents a chance to appeal the decision of the police chief or safety-
service director in labeling a dog as dangerous.
“It gives people due process rights,” Noble said. “They would have a place to go.”
Noble also presented committee members with possible legislation dealing with pit bull terriers and dangerous dogs. The pit bull legislation is similar to that found in the Ohio Revised Code — which automatically requires owners to follow several stipulations, including keeping the animal in enclosed pen and to carry liability insurance.
“With a pit bull, you don’t get the right to appeal,” Noble said. “The only additional thing I put in was not allowing more than two pit bulls. Some cities have limited the numbers of pit bulls you can have.”
St. Marys Police Chief Greg Foxhoven addressed two residents’ concerns about determining whether or not an animal is a pit bull, thus subject to the stringent guidelines.
Foxhoven said officers often confer with a veterinarian to determine the breed of an animal.
“When we have questions we photograph the dog and take it to our vets,” Foxhoven said. “If we’re told it’s a pit bull we take it back to the owners and tell them what we’ve been told.”
Foxhoven also suggested to committee members they modify the ordinance to require that pit bulls be kept only in a pen with a sturdy, locked top.
Foxhoven said the legislation could be interpreted to allow for other materials to be used as a top for the pen.
“I’ve suggested we don’t give them an alternative,” Foxhoven said. “We are finding the tops on some of these are tarps. I would suggest we take out the alternative and spell it out what the pen has to be.”
A possible ordinance regarding dogs running-at-large would remove the criminal charges of the offense in favor of administrative fines. Under the sample ordinance, a first offense would be a $50 fee with subsequent fees climbing to $150. Owners also would have the option of appealing the decision to the administrative appeals board.
Committee members also discussed the option of requiring all dogs to be kept on leashes while walking around the city. The current law requires an owner to keep reasonable control over their animal, but does not require a leash on the animal unless it is a female dog in heat or if the dog is in a city park.
During the meeting, committee members Michael Bernard and Jim Harris said they favored the current ordinance regarding reasonable control over a dog. Committee member Ron Ginter favored a possible leash law.
Noble said while the city cannot be held liable for a dog bite, the animal’s owner could be held liable.
“There is civil liability,” Noble said of dog owners. “If you are bitten by a dog, you always have a civil remedy. That’s an important right.”
Safety committee members agreed to meet again to discuss the topic.
A meeting time, date and place will be published once released to The Evening Leader.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 01 July 2008 )
Bless the Bullys