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Aldermen to keep chewing on dog issues

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After months of debate, Evanston aldermen Monday adopted a revised dangerous dog ordinance, but signaled that debate over animal control issues is far from over.

The ordinance establishes a procedure under which the police chief can declare a dog dangerous and require that owners take steps to control it.

It was approved after the City Council accepted two amendments proposed by Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward.

One would give the owner of an accused dog time to get an evaluation by a certified animal behaviorist before it was declared to be dangerous.

The other specifies that a dog's owner could seek judicial review in circuit court of the police chief's determination that a dog was dangerous.

Alderman Judy Fiske reads from a letter relating an incident in which she said an 80-year-old woman's small pet dog was euthanized after the city's animal control officer declared it was dangerous — an incident that she said showed the need for more due-process protections for dogs and their owners.

The council's Human Services Committee has already begun discussion of an additional possible ordinance to deal with irresponsible pet owners.

And Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, asked Monday that the Rules Committee consider whether oversight of the city's animal shelter should be moved from the Police Department to the Health Department. "The Police Department is too busy with other things," Rainey said.

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