New Whitehall law targets vicious dogs
Tuesday, July 1, 2008 10:20 PM
By Alayna DeMartini
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
The owners of dogs that injure a person or another pet in Whitehall will have to buy liability insurance and register their dog with the police department.
City Council passed the new dog law tonight after dealing with a flurry of complaints about
vicious dogs roaming neighborhoods.
Under the law, even the owner of a dog that kills a person would have a chance to tell an appeals board why the dog isn’t vicious. Then that board, which will be chosen by Mayor John Wolfe, will be asked to decide: Is the dog a threat?
If the board labels any dog vicious, the owner will have to meet a number of requirements including having a microchip inserted into the dog to identify its owner. The owner also will have to neuter or spay the animal and get $100,000 in liability insurance to cover injuries should the dog attack again.
The state automatically considers pit bulls vicious, so they must have the microchip, and their owners must attain the insurance and pen the dog up when it’s not on a leash.
City Councilwoman Jacquelyn Thompson cast the only vote against the law. She wanted to ban pit bulls from Whitehall, but council rejected that proposal last month.
Thompson pointed out that under the new law, a Whitehall resident could own up to three dogs that have maimed or injured another animal or person.
"That’s insanity as far as I’m concerned," she said. "It’s inviting the pit bulls in."
Barb Penn, who runs an animal-rescue organization in Whitehall, said she wanted the council to ban or at least limit the number of pit bulls an owner could have. At least, she noted, the new law puts more requirements on owners of vicious dogs.
"We have to start somewhere," she said.
Last week, a pit bull charged Penn when she opened her front door. The dog didn’t retreat until a neighbor brought meat to coax it away from Penn’s house, she said.
Whitehall City Council also passed a law last night that makes it a minor misdemeanor for dog owners to allow their pets to bark outside for more than 15 minutes. The city’s old law did not specify the time period.
Whitehall City Council members have talked about and battled over proposed dog laws since February. Residents from throughout central Ohio arrived at council meetings to speak for or against a pit-bull ban. Last night, only a handful of people were in the audience.
"We’ve been talking about dogs for five months,’’ said City Councilman Wes Cantor. “It’s time to move on."
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Bless the Bullys