Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ogden officials revisit pit bull restrictions

By Cathy Mckitrick, The Salt Lake Tribune

Of the 126 dogs quarantined in Ogden’s Animal Shelter last year for biting someone, 40.5 percent were either pit bulls or pit-bull mixes.
That statistic, from shelter manager Bob Geier, spurred city administrators to draft an ordinance cracking down on the breed that the city council will consider Tuesday.
“People are training dogs to be aggressive, and the dog of choice in this area is the pit bull,” Councilman Brandon Stephenson said.
Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner said officers have handled a number of dog-bite calls involving pit bulls, although his department did not request the ordinance.
“It’s tough as a dog owner to put all the blame on a breed of dog when invariably it has a lot to do with how a dog is raised and handled,” he said. “In this circumstance, it’s the breed as well as those who choose this breed because of its aggressive tendencies.”
The council discussed a similar proposal a year ago, but abandoned that effort after significant outcry from canine advocates who, among other things, opposed pinning the problem on a specific breed. The proposed statute takes a less stringent approach but still has breed-specific language — and that could be problematic.
Regulations targeting specific dog types are “canine-profiling,” said Ledy VanKavage, senior legislative analyst for Kanab-based Best Friends Animal Society.
“You do want a generic dangerous dog law that addresses any dog behaving badly,” VanKavage said, adding research places blame on reckless owners more than particular breeds.

Update September 28, 2010 10:03pm - The following article is by Cathy Mckitrick, The Salt Lake Tribune:

Dog owners make a plea for pit bulls

About 18 months ago, Sandra Leavitt adopted a full-bred pit bull from the Ogden Animal Shelter. Leavitt, who battles epilepsy, considers her now-constant canine companion, Nikki, to be her lifesaver.
Nikki, now 3 years old, underwent yearlong service training to become Leavitt’s seizure-alert dog.
“My concern is that they could take her away from me,” Leavitt said of Ogden’s breed-specific legislation that would target pit bulls as inherently dangerous and aggressive.
Residents crowded into City Hall on Tuesday night to speak out against the proposed ordinance presented by Animal Services Director Bob Geier and Assistant City Attorney Mara Brown.
City Council members first waded into the thorny topic over a year ago in response to alarming statistics from Ogden’s shelter.
In 2005, of the total number of dogs quarantined for biting someone, Geier identified 36 percent as pit bulls or pit-bull mixes. That figure rose to 40.5 percent in 2009. To date, the rate for 2010 is 39.3 percent, he said.
Tuesday’s fact-finding session included several presentations and detailed discussion of breed-specific language that, if approved, would be inserted into the city’s existing dangerous-dog ordinance.
Geier painted a picture of the aggressive tendencies that he said pit bulls inherently possess — and the problems they pose to Ogden neighborhoods.
“They’re a good dog that needs to be restrained by a responsible owner, but they can be bad at times,” Geier said, describing their Houdini-type abilities to dig or jump their way out of almost any enclosure.
Geier expressed gratitude for his small but well-trained staff, which he says is adept at identifying pit bulls.
That statement evoked skeptical laughter from the crowd gathered in City Council chambers. And Hank Greenwood, president of the American Dog Breeders Association, questioned their ability to identify pit bulls by sight.
“You don’t have a pit bull problem,” Greenwood said. “You have an identification problem. Pit bull is not a breed, it’s a slang word that describes two to 30 different types of dogs.”
Greenwood, who opposes breed-specific laws, showed slides of several dogs being held in the Ogden Animal Shelter that he believes have been misidentified as pit bulls.
South Jordan’s 1999 pit-bull ban has been ineffective in reducing dog-bite incidents, said Melissa Lipani, of Kanab’s Best Friends Animal Society.
Instead, such incidents have increased 112 percent since city officials enacted their breed ban, Lipani noted.
“This is not a community-based approach,” Lipani said of Ogden’s targeted ordinance. “It will dramatically increase your euthanasia rates and will open your community to costly litigation.”
Ogden resident Diana Taylor shared Leavitt’s fear that such regulations would make it too expensive for her to keep her pit-bull mix pup, now 7 months old.
“The most dangerous thing about her is her tongue — she’ll lick you to death,” Taylor said, pleading with council members not to punish her for irresponsible owners who make their dogs mean.
Kitty Williams, who owns two pit bulls, warned the council that the slim Animal Services budget could be better used for expanding spay-and-neuter services rather than enforcing an ineffective law.
The council made no decisions Tuesday but agreed to give the issue due deliberation.

Update January 17, 2011 1:16pm - The following article is from KJCT:

Ogden: Rules For Dangerous Dogs Proposed

The Ogden City Council will vote on stronger rules for potentially dangerous dogs, but will not single out pit bulls.
The Standard-Examiner of Ogden says that the council will vote Jan. 25.A potentially dangerous dog would be one that is impounded twice in a 12 month period, attacks a leashed animal or acts in a highly aggressive manner without provocation in a fenced area.Owners would have to register their dog, implant a microchip and use a special colored collar. Liability insurance for the dog would be required.Last year, the city council considered rules that targeted pit bulls as dangerous. Those did not pass, and the new proposal is not breed specific.

Update January 25, 2011 9:08pm - The following article is by Cathy Mckitrick, The Salt Lake Tribune:

Ogden passes dangerous dog ordinance
City Council members may have stripped any references to pit bulls from the city’s new dangerous-dog ordinance, but they left enough bite in the new law to put dog owners on notice.
The ordinance, in the works since early 2009, passed 5 to 2 Tuesday, with council members Doug Stephens and Amy Wicks voting against it because portions will need to be tweaked as city administrators devise a “good pet-owner program” over the next few months.
Prior to the vote, Ogden resident James Humphreys voiced concerns about the ordinance being too specific and urged the council to table the matter for a couple of weeks.
“You’re very specific about the definition of what a dangerous dog is and the process to determine that,” Humphreys said. “But in practical application, the enforcement officer or animal services director makes that determination.”
According to the new law, a dog is potentially dangerous if its owner has been cited twice or more in a year’s time for letting the dog run loose. It also applies to a dog who, unprovoked, exhibits highly aggressive behavior from its enclosed area.
The ordinance requires that these dogs be micro-chipped and their owners carry $50,000 in liability insurance.
Bob Geier, former director of the city’s no longer functioning animal shelter, pointed out that all dogs are territorial and this new classification could mark any dog as potentially dangerous.
“This will be used [by] neighbor against neighbor,” Geier said, warning that by summer, people will be taking videos and using surveillance equipment to get their neighbors ticketed. 
Councilwoman Susan Van Hooser felt it was urgent to get the new law in place by spring.
“I would hope we’d be able to trust our officers about determining some of these situations,” Van Hooser said. “There has to be some control because you have small children in backyards.”
Alene Evans, Ogden’s code enforcement/animal control supervisor, was pleased with the vote and the council’s agreeing to further tweak the ordinance in the next few months.
Evans said that the good pet owner program should be ready to roll out in March and could allow discounts for residents who undergo pet-care training.
“We want people to have pets, to love them and to properly care for them,” Evans said.
The new ordinance also contains an unlawful tethering section that prohibits inhumane or unsafe restraint of dogs and limits tethering time to 10 hours per day.

Related articles:
Ogden puts bite in dog ordinance - Standard-Examiner

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome your comments and questions.
Be advised that comments are moderated. Not for views, but for content.
Profanity, personal attacks, and spam within comments will result in your comment being rejected.
I, personally, love Pit Bulls as well as all dogs and most animals.
If your comment differs from my feelings or opinions, I will post it anyway, providing it does not include any of the three exceptions listed above.
Same goes for comments that are in harmony with my opinions.
Thank you for participating.