Friday, February 24, 2012

Pit Bull Ordinance Repeal Nears Official Introduction

New policy could become law as early as next week.
By Brian Feldt
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February 23, 2012
Wentzville's Board of Aldermen appear confident enough in the new animal control policy that it plans to officially read it into record for the first time at its next scheduled meeting on Feb. 29.

The legislation, which is still in draft form, will repeal the city's current restrictions on pit bulls and put in its place a breed-neutral policy that puts the onus of harsh or vicious dogs on the owners rather the pets.

The draft has been in the hands of Police Chief Lisa Harrison since January and has been presented to the board several times in the last two months. Harrison has essentially come up with a completely overhauled policy.

On Wednesday, the board further fine-tuned the policy, this time coming to terms with what to do about pets in non-fenced in areas and electric fences.

The board said any pet—dog, cat or pet mouse—must be put on a leash if out in a non-fenced-in area, which includes electric fences. That means pet owners using the electric fences now must either build a regulation fence or have their pets on a leash or tether when in the yard.

During the board's Jan. 25 meeting, the board tackled issues such as a range of fines for owners of vicious dogs and a clearer path for how and how much to fine them.

Board members hope to have the final policy read into record at its improptu Feb. 29 meeting, which was originally scheduled to be a work session but was changed to accomodate another piece of business.

At that point, the board could rush the policy through by reading it all three times and passing it that night or waiting until its regulary scheduled meeting on March 15 to make it law.

The new policy calls for a series of fines for first and subsequent incidents, with fines ranging from $100 for the first offense to $500 for a fourth offense, with the animal being ordered to be removed from the city or be euthanized.

It would also make it unlawful for any person to keep, harbor, possess or allow to be in or upon their premises any dangerous, vicious or ferocious animal.

A dangerous, vicious or ferocious animal would be defined as any animal that:
•Bites or attacks any person, domestic animal or farm animal not withstanding jurisdiction of the offense
•Has ever in the past has bitten, attacked or injured any of the person, domestic animal or farm animal not withstanding jurisdiction of the offense
•By its immediate or previous action, exhibits a threat of attacking or biting a person, domestic animal or farm animal
•Exhibits particulable behavior that causes fear to any reasonable person without provocation anywhere in the city other than the owner’s private property
•When unprovoked, chases, lashes out at or approaches a person upon the streets, sidewalks, or any public grounds or private property other than the property of the owner, in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack, regardless of whether or not a person is injured by such animal
•Owned or harbored primarily or in part for the purpose of fighting or any animal trained for fighting

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