City looks to give dog ordinances more bite
By Blackwell Thomas, The Southern
Wednesday, August 13, 2008 11:42 PM CDT
CARBONDALE - In a list he submitted to city council members at the body's last meeting, council member Chris Wissmann outlined a number of proposals designed to reduce the risk of a dog attack.
Wissmann's list includes some sweeping changes, such as tethered dogs being required to wear a muzzle and a ban on dog licenses for people who have been convicted of a violent felony.
City Manager Alan Gill said Wednesday that a meeting is being planned with city officials and Wissmann to discuss the proposals.
"It's a question of feasibility and enforceability," Gill said of Wissmann's proposals. "You have to balance the need to control the dangerous dogs we do have versus the inconvenience to responsible owners who really do take care of their dogs."
Much of what Wissmann is proposing deals with those dogs deemed dangerous by the city's animal control officer in concert with Carbondale Police.
Police Chief Bob Ledbetter said he believes about three dogs were deemed dangerous in Carbondale last year and that all three dogs are no longer in the city.
Under Wissmann's proposals, dogs with the dangerous designation would be required to wear a muzzle in public and be required to go through a certification "like the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen Program."
Wissmann's move was spurred by the July attack of an American Bulldog on 4-year-old Carbondale resident Rosie Gordon, whose mother works with Wissmann's employer, Thomas Publishing.
Gordon was hurt severely in the incident and has undergone. The attack occurred in the home of a family friend, and city officials have said there's little an ordinance can do in such a situation.
Wissmann said he hopes the proposals will serve as a start to a discussion on the issue and that he didn't necessarily expect each suggestion to get council approval.
That said, the city's current ordinances need beefing up, Wissmann said.
"It's the city's responsibility to fill loopholes in state law that allow dangerous or inhumane behavior with respect to dog ownership," he wrote in an e-mail. "Our city code does this to some degree, but there are a few more things we can do that improve both human safety and the humane treatment of animals."
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Bless the Bullys