Dangerous dogs would become harder and more expensive to keep in Evanston under an ordinance up for discussion at the Human Services Committee meeting Wednesday.

The ordinance, recommended by Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, would amend existing restrictions in several ways.

It would raise the annual fee for keeping a dangerous dog to $250 from $100.

And it would permit the animal control warden to confiscate any dangerous dog found unconfined and have it destroyed, subject to results of an evaluation of the dog by an animal behavioral expert that the owner would have to pay for in advance.

For a dangerous dog to be released, the owner would have to provide the city with a copy of a $100,000 insurance policy covering injuries and other damage the dog might cause.

The ordinance clarifies that it’s up to the police department to initially investigate and declare a dog to be dangerous.

And it would bar owners from giving away a danagerous dog to anyone in the city. The existing ordinance already bars breeding or selling dangerous dogs in Evanston.

Related documents

Draft of proposed ordinance

Existing rules: City Code 9-4-17: Dangerous Dogs

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Definitions per municipal code

    Defined: As used in this section "dangerous dogs" shall mean and include:

    1.Any dog with a known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack unprovoked, to cause injury or to otherwise endanger the safety of human beings or domestic animals; or
    2.Any dog which attacks a human being or domestic animal without provocation; or
    3.Any dog which, without provocation, in a vicious or terrorizing manner approaches any person in an apparent attitude of attack, whether or not the attack is consummated or capable of being consummated.
    4.Any dog owned or harbored primarily or in part for the purpose of dogfighting or any dog trained for dogfighting.
    5.Any dog which has been trained as an attack dog, except such dogs which may be used by the Evanston police department or at its direction.
    6.No dog shall be deemed dangerous solely on the grounds that it bites, attacks or menaces a trespasser on the property of its owner or harms or menaces anyone who has tormented or abused it.

    1. Item 3 from the definitions-

      Does anyone else have a problem with the last part of that?  "…or capable of being consummated."  So a barking dog, behind a secure fence, becomes dangerous exactly HOW?

      If the dog is NOT CAPABLE of consummating a threat, how does this make it hostile or dangerous?

      Maybe the dog just wants to play and is barking for attention?  Does everyone, especially non-dog-owners, know the difference between a hostile bark and a pay-attention-to-me bark? Will the dog police confiscate EVERY barking dog in a secure yard and kill them? Does the city have enough cash on hand for the lawsuits that are certain to follow?

  2. This is a step in the right

    This is a step in the right direction. Not everyone is enamored of some of these dogs that are paraded around as pets. Maybe the owners will get the message and properly secure them before something bad happens. 

  3. Trained Fighters

    Evanston needs to take a closer look to the reality of dog fighting. There are parts of Evanston where dogs (usually a pitbull) are walked by their owners with 30-50 pound chains wrapped around there neck ( in order to toughen the neck). There are yards with bite ropes, and provoking tools to encourage a dog to become agitated. I think this ordinance lays the ground work for the animal warden to take a dog from an owner that has the potential for grooming a dog solely for dog fighting and/or abusive neglect.

    1. Dogfighting is against Illinois law


      If you suspect dog fighting or training for dog fighting is happening in a specific location, report your suspicions to police.  Be specific as to what you saw and exactly where.  I know that dogs in Evanston have been confisticated for suspected dogfighting (the dogs in question did show physical signs of abuse.)

  4. Lawsuit

    Can you say lawsuit?  Dogs are animals.  All animals are wild and do not understand law, just nature.  Just enforce the ordinances on the books, going after owners that abuse or neglect ANY animal or pet.–

  5. Proposed Ordinance is a simple “tightening-up”

    I have reviewed the draft proposed (that's why Bill includes the links for all of us to be informed beyond the headline story) by the Human Services Committee and it appears to me that it is a simple tightening of the existing ordinance.  I see no evidence of "breed discrimination".  On the other hand, if I see any evidence of breed discrimination, I would be opposed to any such ordinance.  Admittedly some dogs can be dangerous, and not only the notorious breeds we suspect;  Some small dogs can actually fit the definition of dangerous, but we tend to dismiss them if they are 10 lbs or less.  If an owner of ANY SIZE DOG cannot control it and makes no attempt at taking the proper responsibility under the ordinance,  the owner needs to be prepared to face the consequences.

    PS – The top Ten Dangerous dogs list includes of course the Pitbull as numb  one, however it may surprise you that Huskies, Chows and Dalmatians are in the list.  All of the top ten are large dogs which by common sense tells us that the larger the dog, the larger the threat in terms of injury.  This is why I like a ordinance that focuses on the owner and his pet's BEHAVIOR.  I'd rather have a gentle German Shepard than a small dog that likes to bite and misbehave. http://www.petsdo.com/blog/top-ten-10-most-dangerous-dog-breeds

    Local Anecdotal Evidence: During the Central St July 4th Parade, I noticed that the larger dogs were much more acclimated and behaved than some of the smaller dogs (there were a large amount of dogs).  The few dogs I saw that were misbehaved seemed to reflect the character of the owner- I saw one dog that was very aggressive, but I noticed the owner constantly yanking the leash, even when the dog was simply sniffing the grass, as all dogs do.

  6. Would it be asking too much

    Would it be asking too much to include language that prohibits dogs that are outside barking constantly after 11pm to 7am the next day, the knucklehead owners of such dogs be fined $1,000 for each offense? I own a dog, there is NO good reason why a dog should be left outside over night, especially if it is a public nuisence with a long track record of barking at night in the past.

    Owners of these dogs are either malicious towards their neighbors, incredibly stupid or both. It's even worse when the dogs barking at night are also within the description of "dangerous" in this ordinance and tend to bark louder and more menacingly. The police should be busy protecting the public at night, not knocking on the doors of dog owners whose dogs are barking at 3 a.m.

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