Sunday, October 17, 2010

Forum on pit bulls Monday

From Kirksville Daily Express

The city of Kirksville is invited to provide input on a proposed vicious animal ordinance that would prohibit the owning of any animal deemed dangerous, including tigers, bobcats, raccoons, bears, venomous snakes and pit bull dogs.

The Kirksville City Council is considering the proposed ordinance draft and is welcoming input before making putting it to a vote.

According to Sec. 5-19 of the proposed ordinance, dangerous animal is defined as “any animal or reptile which is not naturally tame or gentle and [...] which is capable of killing, inflicting serious injury upon or causing disease among human beings or domestic animals.”

This includes many classes of wild animals, such as lions, wolves, alligators or crocodiles, as well as several breeds of dogs commonly associated with the American pit bull.

The public forum will be held at the Adair County Annex Building at 300 N. Franklin St. at 7 p.m. Monday.
Citizens will be allowed two minutes to speak to the council at the forum and can also submit written comments for consideration.

As proposed, the ordinance would allow pit bulls currently owned within city limits to remain, with several requirements including an annual registration fee, secure Codes and Planning Department-inspected confinement of the animal, proper warning signs and a liability insurance policy covering up to $100,000 for bodily injury or death.

Visit the city’s website at www.kirksvillecity.com for the complete draft of the proposed ordinance.

Update October 19, 2010 11:20am - The following article is by Taylor Muller, Kirksville Daily Express:
 
Kirksville residents try to take bite out of proposed animal ordinance

Pit bull owners and concerned citizens gave the city council something to consider as it discusses a proposed dangerous animal ordinance that would effectively ban pit bulls in Kirksville city limits, among other animals deemed a danger to public safety.

The council invited the public to speak at an open forum Monday evening at the Adair County Annex, soliciting input on all aspects of a drafted ordinance that would prevent residents from owning pit bulls in the future.
The ordinance classifies tigers, bobcats, raccoons, bears, monkeys, venomous snakes and pit bull dogs as dangerous animals.

The ordinance defines pit bulls as the following breeds: Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier and any mixed dog from these breeds.

At the forum, Codes and Planning Director Brad Selby, who drafted the proposed ordinance, said as it’s written now, a dog with any mix of pit bull breed would be considered dangerous.

This would mean owners would be required to pay a $50 annual registration fee, leash and muzzle their pit bull when out in public, as well as take out a $100,000 liability insurance policy.

Dangerous animals would not be allowed to be leashed, chained or tied to inanimate objects, or allowed to run free in a backyard without being in a kennel or enclosure with secure sides and top, to be examined by the Codes Department annually.

Owners must also post warning signs and provide authorities with identification photographs, as well as conform to several reporting requirements.

But more than 30 residents came out Monday night to voice their concerns over infringing rights, stereotyping and the possible dangers of breed-specific legislation.

“We already have laws in place to deal with vicious animals,” said Tracy Bender, of Kirksville. “I believe this infringes on our civil liberties and needs to be towards aggressive dogs, not breed specific.”

City officials were also on hand to relate staff concerns, in particular those of the city water employees as well as Codes and Planning workers.

“I have had staff come express their concern over being in parts of town with dangerous animals,” said Finance Director Laura Guy. “It’s not a particularly efficient use of staff time or tax dollars, with having to have two employees go out to check a water meter, one to check it and one to guard him.”

Selby also related situations where dangerous dogs, including pit bulls, had threatened or attacked city workers.

“It’s about public safety. I have employees out in the city walking into these dangerous situations,” he said. “We’ve seen pit bulls chained to the house to keep people from getting to the front door. They’re powerful and they scare a lot of people.”

Local veterinarian Jenny Lindquist spoke at the forum against the ordinance, saying in her practice, the majority of her scars came from cats, chihuahuas and dachshunds.

“I know they’re intimidating, but there are other ways to deal with this,” she said. “I see all kinds of dogs and animals and if I were bit by, say a shepherd, it would be like me saying, ‘I’m never going to see a shepherd again.’”

And in all the opposition to the ban, residents expressed a hope that their loved pets could remain part of their families without restrictions or regulations.

“I have done everything the city is proposing to keep my dogs safe and my neighbors safe already,” said Kevin Burgess, owner of four pit bulls and longtime Kirksville resident. “I’m really just hoping this forum is not a formality.”

Council members will now take the testimony, information and perspectives provided at the forum and continue discussion before deciding whether, and how, to proceed.

“We will talk about it more at another study session and then we’ll choose whether we want to rework it, scrap it or put it to a vote,” said Mayor Todd Kuhns.

Residents are still welcome to submit their opinions on the ordinance to council members or the city manager, as well as view the proposed ordinance at www.kirksvillecity.com/filestorage/68/Dangerous_Animal_Ordinance_Draft.pdf.

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