Dangerous dog restrictions backed
Fences, insurance would be required for breed owners
By Bob Petrie • Sheboygan Press staff • September 30, 2010
An ordinance placing heavy restrictions on dangerous dogs in the City of Sheboygan, including confining them to a stockade-style fenced yard when outdoors, forcing their owners to carry $300,000 in liability insurance in case their dog attacks and injures another person, and enforcing strict leash and muzzle requirements, was unanimously passed Wednesday by the Common Council's Public Protection and Safety Committee.
The ordinance, introduced by Ald. Scott Versey, also would require owners of dangerous dogs to place warning signs on their premises, and ban anyone under the age of 18 from controlling the dog with a leash.
The Common Council is expected to vote on the ordinance next Monday.
Versey said he started working on the ordinance, crafted from laws on the books in Milwaukee, South Milwaukee, Independence, Mo., and Denver, after several dog attack incidents in the Sheboygan area, including one where an 8-year-old Sheboygan boy was severely bitten in the face by a pit bull in April.
The boy, A.J. Sterling, suffered injuries to his cheek, which was bitten off by the dog, and reattached by a surgeon. The boy was bitten by the pit bull as a 12-year-old girl was walking the dog in the neighborhood. The dog was later euthanized and the dog's owner was cited in the case.
"Basically, it's going to protect more people and hopefully we don't have children disfigured by these animals any longer," Versey said. "Go ahead and have the dog, but it's making the owner more responsible."
The ordinance regulates any dog that is an American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Miniature Pit Bull Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier. It also covers any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of those breeds.
The ordinance will be in addition to one in place in the city regulating vicious dogs, which are banned in Sheboygan.
Chuck Adams, assistant city attorney, told members of the committee Wednesday that Police Chief Christopher Domagalski supports the ordinance, and the police department would be in charge of enforcing the law, if it is passed.
"What will most likely happen if there's an incident, the police will write tickets for it," Adams said.
Under the ordinance, owners of dangerous dogs will have to register them each year with the police department, including a color photo of the dog, proof of current license and rabies certificate, proof of liability insurance, written proof from a veterinarian that the dog has been spayed or neutered, and pay a $75 registration fee.
Dangerous dogs must be secured indoors and can't be kept on a porch or patio or an area where it could get loose. A dangerous dog kept outdoors must be confined in a secure, fully enclosed fenced yard, with only one entrance. The fence must be 6 feet tall, built in a stockade style and completely opaque, and embedded into the ground to a depth of no less than 18 inches. The entrance must be locked with a key or combination lock while the dog is in the fenced area.
A dog also can be kept outdoors in a pen or kennel with a strong metal double fence that won't allow a child to reach into it, and the structure must have secure sides and a top attached to the sides. It must also be locked and have a secure bottom.
Dangerous dogs must be securely leashed on a leash no longer than 4 feet, attached to a prong training collar and held by a person at least 18 years old who is competent and capable of physically maintaining and controlling the dog. It must also be muzzled in a humane way to keep it from biting persons or other animals.
Versey, who owns a black Labrador, said he believes there will be support for the ordinance at the council level.
"I don't foresee it being a big deal," he said. "You're going to have the dog lovers that say it's not the dog, it's the owner, which I agree … By bringing this forward, you're protecting the majority, not the minority that own pit bulls. To me it's more important to have public safety."
They only have until Monday. He asked me to pass this around and get it as far as I could. PLease pass it around and do what you can. Here's what he had to say to me.
I am hoping I can get all your help stopping the city of Sheboygan Wisconsin from passing a Denver style ordinance restricting pit bulls and pit bull related breeds. http://www.sheboyganpress.com/article/2 ... ons-backed This article explains it better than I can. Please help us, this ordinance won't make pits less dangerous, it will instead make it harder for us to properly socialize these sweet dogs. If you want more info contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a list of the city council email addresses is at http://ci.sheboygan.wi.us/Clerks/CommonCouncil.html. Thanks for any help you can give us they are voting on it next monday so we don't have much time.
I know it's not much time and I'm not sure what all you can do but we can atleast try! Thank you!