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City Looks At Updating Dog Laws

MONMOUTH -- The city of Monmouth may give police more authority to issue citations related to dog attacks and narrow the definition of what constitutes a "dangerous dog" in the next two mont

MONMOUTH -- The city of Monmouth may give police more authority to issue citations related to dog attacks and narrow the definition of what constitutes a "dangerous dog" in the next two months.

Discussion of altering Monmouth's ban on dogs from parks and whether to impose a limit on the number of canines per residence is also on the horizon.

Monmouth Police Department is proposing a series of tweaks and additions to the town's animal regulation ordinances.

Among the changes:

* A revised "dog at large" provision that will upgrade dog attacks on people or other animals from an infraction to a class C misdemeanor. This gives police the ability to issue citations without having to witness the offense themselves -- a hindering feature of the current ordinance, said Chief Darrell Tallan.

* The definition of a dangerous dog will no longer include a passage that automatically singles out pit bulls or similar breeds. Whether a dog is considered dangerous will now hinge on documented attacks, behavior and disposition.

* Individuals whose dogs are impounded for reasons other than running at large, such as those quarantined in bite incidents, must also pay impound fees and daily expenses for police lodging of the pets.

City councilors, during a work session Tuesday, Oct. 19, approved the aforementioned items to appear on a future business agenda. Tallan also posed the issue of being able to bring dogs into city parks.

Monmouth prohibits dogs in its parks under existing ordinances. There have been a number of events in Main Street Park, however, where attendees have been allowed to bring their animals.

Madrona Park, meanwhile, is considered by many to be a dog park; some councilors admitted to regularly taking their dog there.

"The main thing for us is we want to be able to enforce what's on the books," Tallan said. "There's been too much `you can do it now, you can't do it now' and people are confused."

The parks and recreation board will consider whether to keep the dog ban in place, to allow leashed dogs in parks, or to designate some facilities as dog parks.

Another issue raised was placing a limit on the number of dogs per residence, and whether a kennel permit should be required beyond a given standard.

Monmouth currently has no cap. Councilors opined that four should be set as a future limit, and asked staff to research similar policies in surrounding cities.

Councilor Ben Meyer said he's aware of one home in the city with as many as nine dogs.

"I would decide a certain number and if they want to have more, the owners would have to jump through more hoops," Meyer said.

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