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FEATURE NEWS

MONROE COUNCIL VOTE ON "DANGEROUS" DOG BREEDS:
November 24, 2008




Cane Corso dog. In some communities they are classified as a "dangerous" breed
(MONROE, WA) -- Bowing to vocal dog owners for the time being, the Monroe City Council voted 6-0 last week to approve a dangerous dog ordinance that will not classify after the “2nd strike” certain dogs such as pit bulls and Akitas as “dangerous”.

The interim ordinance keeps intact for at least 180 days a one-warning strike for all dogs but does not contain any language that targets certain breeds as more dangerous than other breeds. The ordinance will expire after 180 days if no further action is taken. The ordinance also contains a provision that makes it illegal for owners to take their dogs off their properties without bringing along a scoop or bag to collect waste. It requires dog owners to clean up after their pets in public spaces or face possible fines up to $250.

The 180-day time frame of the ordinance gives the city council additional time to read through the volumes of research on dangerous dog legislation that has been sent to the council from numerous agencies and dog organizations.

HOW DOG VOTE CAME ABOUT

The Monroe city council began considering possible stricter regulations on dogs after complaints from residents in the Chain Lake neighborhood. The complaints were from citizens who have either been attacked by certain breeds or who feel terrorized by some dogs in their communities. Citizens demanded the council take action to deal with dangerous dogs that have attacked or may attack pets or humans without provocation.

Dozens of dog owners marched to a public hearing at Monroe's city hall last Tuesday evening in protest of a proposal that would label certain breeds of dogs as potentially dangerous. The hearing drew a large crowd, large enough that people filled the council chambers with some being forced to stand outside.

Monroe currently has a two-strike manner in which it deals with the problem. Dogs are labeled as “potentially dangerous” once they bite or act aggressively and if a second incident happens in the future (a “2nd strike”) the dogs are registered as “dangerous.”

The designation legally compels the dog’s owner or owners to institute greater control over their dogs. The most recent proposal would simply have eliminated that first warning for certain breeds meaning they could have been labeled as dangerous the first time they bit someone or acted aggressively.

However dog owners of pit bulls and other breeds often labeled by animal control and police officers as “aggressive” felt they would be unjustly punished under the proposal for the acts of a few irresponsible dog owners.

Many dog owners, including veterinarians and a dog search and rescue trainer approached the podium last Tuesday evening to tell council members that such legislation does not work and unfairly penalizes law abiding citizens who have breeds like pit bulls that never attack anyone or cause other problems associated with aggressive behavior.

In Everett potentially dangerous dogs are required to be licensed, registered and have a microchip embedded in their bodies.

VICIOUS DOG ATTACKS: A COMMON REALITY IN MANY URBAN AREAS

In September a 72-year-old SeaTac woman was attacked and viscously mauled by two pit bulls. Huong Le was on her way back from walking her granddaughter to a school-bus stop when the dogs attacked her just after 8:00 a.m. outside her home.

She suffered severed ears, a crushed arm and deep bite wounds from her head to her feet. She later told investigators she thought she was going to die.

According to the Seattle Animal Shelter, pit bulls account for a disproportionate number of reported dog bites in Seattle. While pit bulls make up only four percent of licensed dogs in the city they make up 22 percent of reported bites.

One study shows that pit bulls, Rottweilers, Presa Canarios and their mixes were responsible for 65% of the canine caused human homicides that occurred during a period of 24 years in the USA. (Clifton, Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, September 1982 to November 13, 2006. From www.dogbite.law.com.)





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