OCALA - Northeast Ocala resident Charles Brown has a gripe many people
probably share. Brown says he can't find any peace because of a
neighbor's barking dog.
"This dog never shuts up," Brown said.
He took his concerns to the City Council on Tuesday evening and asked
for changes to Ocala's animal control law. It turns out the Public
Works Department staff is already working on proposed changes to
strengthen the city's law for nuisance dogs, which animal control can
pick up for violations like running loose or barking excessively.
In late 2005, the City Council approved similar recommendations to add
teeth to the dangerous-dogs law, which deals with attacks on humans or
Public Works Director John Zobler said the recommended changes would
go to City Council in about a month.
Brown said his problem with the current law is the requirement of two
sworn affidavits. He said he believes some of his neighbors would not
sign one because they feel intimidated by the neighbor who owns the
dog, a pit bull named Killer.
On Tuesday, another neighbor signed an affidavit and Killer was
impounded. That now has the dog's owner, Chris Abbate, concerned about
the nuisance law.
Abbate said he has to meet a deadline to have his dog neutered and
will have to install an electric fence in his yard to get Killer back
and keep him from potential euthanization.
"He's never bit nobody. He's never chased nobody," Abbate said. "The
only thing he does is bark. .ʮʮ I don't think a dog should be put to
sleep because he barked."
He also noted an animal control officer was at his house for 20
minutes and never heard the dog bark.
Zobler said the two-affidavit requirement was intended as a safeguard
to keep city government from being used as a weapon in neighborhood
Brown's visit to the City Council also had a council member
questioning - this was the second time a council member has done so in
the last several months - whether the city should ban pit bulls. Last
time it was Councilman Charles Ruse Jr., who was then inundated with
e-mails of opposition from across the country. Tuesday, it was Council
President Mary Sue Rich.
Assistant City Attorney Jimmy Gooding said Florida law appears to
prohibit local governments from adopting breed-specific legislation
but he would research further. The famous Miami-Dade County pit bull
ban is an exception because it was approved before Oct. 1, 1990.
On Wednesday, Rich said the breed ban seems illegal in Florida and she
favors a stronger nuisance law for all dogs instead.
Zobler worked as the head of Miami-Dade Animal Control from 1994 to
1998. He said the pit bull ban had mixed results. It gave government
more authority to punish pit bull owners but it did not seem to
diminish the breed's numbers.
A Public Works Department report from last summer showed the majority
of the city's nuisance and dangerous dog complaints involve pit bulls.
Christopher Curry may be reached at chris.curry@... or
http://www.ocala.com/apps/pbcs.dll/arti ... 4/1001/NEW\