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Full council to get dangerous dog issue

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A City Council committee Monday night approved a new ordinance to regulate dangerous dogs, but only after an opponent won the committee's backing to work out several modifications with the city's legal staff.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, who raised doubts about the ordinance last month, persuaded the two other aldermen at the Human Services Committee meeting to let her work with city attorneys to revise the ordinance before it reaches the full City Council.

The main advocate for the ordinance, Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, was absent from Monday's meeting.

Fiske said she wanted more due process protections for dogs and their owners, and objected particularly to a provision that she said could be interpreted to let the police chief declare a dog to be dangerous and have it euthanized on his own discretion.

She said the ordinance could create "a no-man's land and could end up having dogs destroyed almost by mistake."

She also objected to provisions that appeared to allow owners of dogs declared to be dangerous no legal way to move them from an outdoor cage — even to be inside their homes or to take them to a vet.

Fiske also argued that most of the complaints the committee had heard from residents who'd suffered dog bites involved what they saw as inadequate response by police and animal control officials to their complaints — issues she said it did not appear the new ordinance would address.

Deputy Police Chief Jeff Jamraz told the committee he believed the process for reporting dog bites should be streamlined and that people should be able to file a report whether they've been injured or not, and that police should take photos of any injuries to document them and better conduct a follow-up investigation.

The ordinance is now scheduled to be on the agenda for the council's Aug. 8 meeting, but may be delayed by the need for revisions.

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