Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington told aldermen Wednesday night that a proposed dangerous dog ordinance needs further amendments to deal with irresponsible dog owners.

At the Human Services Committee meeting Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, described an incident over the weekend in which she said a man was out walking his dog not far from Washington School when the dog and man were attacked by a pit bull that its owner had allowed to run loose.

The pit bull, Burrus said, continued to attack as the man fled with his dog to his own home. and continued to bark and scare people in the courtyard of the building where he lived.

Burrus said a police officer responding to the scene ended up having to pull his gun and shoot the pit bull, which then ran home after being shot in the head.

She said the pit bull’s owner then became belligeratn to the police officer that had shot the dog.

“This owner has clearly been using his dogs to intimmidate other people and terrorize the neighborhood,” Burrus said. “Residents in my ward are frightened and want something done.”

Eddington said he needs the authority to impound an allegedly dangerous dog while the courts determine whether the dog should actually be declared dangerous.

He said the pit bull owner in the weekend incident has been issued numerous tickets over a period of several years for not controlling his pets and failing to have them licensed, but has not complied with the licensing laws or paid the tickets.

“At some point, once someone has acquired a number of tickets for not controlling or caring for pets, we need to more directly intervene and seize the dogs while the situation is adjudicated,” Eddington said.

Under the proposed ordinance as it currently reads, Eddington said, he’d have to show the dog has already been declared to be dangerous and is at large or is being trained for dog fighting in order to seize it.

“The incident this weekend is the poster child for irresponsible dog ownership,” Eddington said. “The owner had been issued citations, they’d gone to collections, but the behavior was not modified and the pets were not controlled.”

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said that there’s a similar situation in her ward where tickets have been issued since 2007, but the dog’s owner has refused to act responsibly.

Eddington said in the cae Holmes referred to the owner has compiled at least 45 unpaid dog tickets.

“They’re not playing by the rules, and that puts other people and pets in danger,” Eddington said. “We’re talking about the smallest percentage of owners who will not be responsible — but as protection for the community, we need these remedies for that group.”

Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, asked if there might be other strategies:  “Can’t we turn their water off” for failing to pay the fines? he asked.

Eddington said he was reluctant to use that approach because sometimes “you may have one person acting like a nitwit, but the rest of the family has nothing to do with it.”

“If we seize the dog, that takes the danger from the community while we’re figuring out what to do next.”

The dangerous dog ordinance is scheduled to be considered by the full City Council Monday night.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Is Tendam for real?

    Is Tendam for real?  His solution is to turn the water off for not paying fines for animal-related ordinance violations.  The few times this guy opens his mouth, nonsense comes out of it.  Who elected this guy?

  2. Ban pit bulls in Evanston before someone is mauled to death

    This dangerous dog issue was discussed among Human Services Committee members in July when Evanston resident Tom Okawara told the Committee he found through a freedom of information act request that showed there have been over 170 reports of dog bites on humans since 2006 but not a single dog had been declared dangerous during that time.

    Okawara told the committee an unleashed pit bull had attacked his dog and the city's animal warden refused to declare it dangerous. It was at that meeting that Aldermen Judy Fiske, a pet store owner, opposed the ordinance because "a provision of the new ordinance would effectively let the police chief or an animal warden order a dog declared dangerous to be euthanized without having any independent animal behavioral expert evaluate the dog."

    Just two months later, an unleashed pit bull attacked a man and his dog and forced police to shoot it. As I had posted in July, airlines, cities, the military and other institutions have banned pit bulls. 

    I don't think this proposed ordinance amendment goes far enough.

    We should include a breed specific provision that either bans pit bulls or dogs that have substantial physical characteristics and appearance of a pit bull and declare all pit bull-type dogs to be legally "vicious" or require owners of pit bulls, pit bull-type dogs or any dog the city deems dangerous to take special training or have their dogs pass the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen test at the owner's expense. Other requirements might include requiring owners to restrict their pit bulls or other declared dangerous dogs with muzzles, chains, or enclosures.

    The cities of Miami, Denver and Ontario Canada and the entire state of Ohio have banned pit bulls.

    Evanston should do the same before someone gets mauled by a pit bull, especially a child.

    It isn't just the owner – it's the breed. Fiske does Evanston a great disservice if she opposes this proposed ordinance amendment. 

    And Aldermen Mark Tendam would like to turn off the water in the residences of dog owners who fail to pay the fines? Yikes, what a lame-brained idea. What kind of mindset does Tendam have? 

    Jim Beam asked who elected Tendam. The unions and the local Democrat party endorsed Tendam and gave him campaign donations.

    1. Reply

      I agree, pit bulls can be dangerous dogs. We have to keep in mind however Pit Bulls are not the only dangerous breed of dog if brought up incorrectly. 

      Dalmatians, those adorable and cute spotted dogs are very protective dogs and can be aggressive towards humans. They are very active and need lots of exercise. They have very sensitive natures and an excellent memory. This bred is famed for their intelligence, indepedence, and survival instincts.

      Chow Chows, a small fluffy breed of dogs. These dogs can be aggressive if poorly bred. The Chow Chow may appear to be independent and aloof for much of the day but needs constant reinforcement.

      Dobermans are great guard dogs for their alertness, intelligence and loyalty. They can be agressive dogs when provoked. The typical pet Doberman attacks only if it believes that it, its property, or its family are in danger.

      Husky-type dogs. Very energetic and intelligent dogs. Not considered a good guard dog because of its personality characteristics and gentle temperament. However, a 2000 study of dog bites resulting in human fatalities in the U.S. found fifteen such fatalities (6% of the total) were caused by "husky-type" dogs between 1979 and 1997.

      Rottweilers are known to be very aggressive dogs because of their keen territorial instincts. That's why they make great guard dogs.

      I retrieved this information from "http://www.petsdo.com/blog/top-ten-10-most-dangerous-dog-breeds"

      The truth of the matter is ANY dog can be dangerous if brought up in an abusive atmosphere, not really all that different than the way people respond to our up-bringing. Yesterday I heard of a case where a Labrador attacked a person, severally injuring them. Labradors are one of the definition kid friendly dogs, however, if not taken care of as well as abused, they can be problematic as well. When Pit Bull dogs, the same variety that nearly tore my arm off are brought up in a good environment, they are one of the best and happiest dogs that you can possibly own. Banning breeds of dogs will not solve any issues, however, identifying certain breeds as potentially lethal dogs, thus placing the responsibility on the owner that if their dog attacks someone, that the owner should be liable in the same way that a person is liable for shooting a random person. This holds the owners accountable and would solve the overall problem at the root. Not only would this prevent German Shepards becoming the next fighting dog, but it would prevent fighting dogs in general.

      If I didn't have two small boys, I myself would have considered getting a pit bull due to my past experiences with them. I have had such fond childhood memories of the pit bull, that seeing one act in the way that it did could have only happened due to the owner, and not due to the true nature of the dog.

  3. It would seem reasonable that

    It would seem reasonable that after a certain amount of tickets are issued, that the police would have the right to seize the animal.

  4. Tendam

    Unfortunately, the 6th Ward elected him.  We need some changes in the next election.  The promises that were made by the newer Aldermen have been forgotten.

  5. Wow

    Wow, parking tickets, turning off the water… what a strange solution. This has to be changed. It was my dog and I who where attacked that Sunday night, and there are many details left out. Looking back on everything, I am really am a very very lucky man. I would like to include several details regarding that attack that were not included in the article.

    (1) The property where the dog resided has a fence that is far to low,

    (2) that my dog and I where attacked numerous times before ever getting the chance to try to make our way home,

    (3) that when we made it to our house, the dog followed us and had attacked once again my dog in-front of our door. I of course once again had to pry the pit bulls jaws off my dog, and once again they then landed on me.

    (4) After we finally got inside, the pit bull started to ram itself against our front screen door, trying to break it down. This was a dog that simply had no intentions of stopping, and this is a trademark of dogs brought up to fight.

    (5) Once the officer arrived on the scene, the pit then charged the officer who was then forced to shoot the dog in its head.

    (6) After being shot in the head, only then did it return to its owner.

    As I mentioned earlier, my dog and I are very lucky to have not suffered worse injuries. I didn't need to have my mussel reattached to my arm (the paramedics where worried), and my dog only suffered deep puncture wounds. Had this been my wife, a senior citizen, or a child, the outcome could have been very tragic. Giving the police the only ability to issue parking tickets is well beyond me, and this really needs to be changed. I sincerely hope that as many of you who can make it will attend the following meeting regarding this issue on the 12th. Owning a strong dog is much like owning a gun, and really, the consequences for the owner need to be roughly the same. I myself own a very strong Black Lab, and happily take responsibility for any and all problems that should ever arise with her. I really hope to see a large turnout on the 12th regarding this issue.



  6. The entire dog ordinance needs to be reviewed and revised

    It is my thought that the entire dog ordinance needs to be reviewed by a group of Evanston citizens that may include animal specialists.

    It is my understanding that there is a limit to the number of dogs and/or cats that one dwelling should have. Such needs to be enforced by Property Standards. Failure to comply should result in a dwelling being declared a public nuisance.

    Our Health Department should be involved with dog bites as a public health problems. We should not expect EDP to stay on top of all pet issues for an array of interest reasons.

    I have found that pet owners with profiles of thought discomfort and behavioral issues often are not responsible pet owners. Dog training will not necessarily alter these pet owners issues of being responsible owners.

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