About two months ago, Mr. Bing, a Chihuahua mix, was attacked outside his home in Red Bank by a dog that got through an electric fence.
Mr. Bing managed to get away, but still required $700 in medical treatment.
“Our first concern was the pet, so we took Mr. Bing to the vet,” said Darin Wright, owner of the 15-year-old dog. “Then I started thinking about the fact there are many loose dogs running around and, as a resident, I don’t have any recourse.”
The attack on Mr. Bing and other residents’ concerns prompted Wright to propose an ordinance to address the issue of loose dogs.
On Tuesday, the Red Bank City Commission met to review the first draft of the “vicious dogs” ordinance, as City Manager Chris Dorsey, called it.
The proposal, very similar to what Chattanooga already has, classifies dogs who have nearly attacked or injured a person or another animal as “potentially dangerous” and “dangerous.”
* Dangerous dog: Any dog that, according to the records of an appropriate authority: inflicts a severe injury on a human being without provocation on public or private property or bites, attacks, scratches or endangers the safety of a human being without provocation after the dog has been classified as a potential dangerous dog.
* Potential dangerous dog: Any dog that without provocation bites, attacks, scratches, or endangers the safety of a human being on any public or private property; or any dog that attacks and kills, or severely injures another properly restrained companion animal while on private or public property.
Source: City of Red Bank
BY THE NUMBERS
Number of animals that went to the Humane Education Society in 2009 from Red Bank:
* 90: Owner surrendered animals
* 138: Stray animals
* 6: Wildlife
* 2: Seized for court
Source: Guy Bilyeu, executive director for the Humane Educational Society
If a dog, regardless of the breed, is deemed by a judge to be dangerous, among other things, the owner would be required to have a $100,000 liability insurance, a dog tag that clearly says the dog is dangerous and it must be kept in a pen inside a fenced yard.
A dog classified as potentially dangerous would have to be kept indoors or confined on the owner’s property and attend obedience classes.
The ordinances basically allow dogs to be put on trial, said Red Bank City Attorney Arnold Stulce, and be “arrested” if needed until their hearing.
“This just gives us a better legal basis to control animals that are not being kept under control by their owners,” he added.
Red Bank has a $62,000 contract with the Humane Education Society for the city’s animal control services.
Such as ordinance, said Guy Bilyeu, executive director of the Humane Education Society, would help the city enforce the law as part of the contract.
“You need to have ordinances like this because, unfortunately, animal laws are so vague and judges have a difficult time determining what type of penalties someone should get,” Bilyeu said. “This just gives them more tools to work with.”
One of the concerns of Red Bank Mayor Joe Glasscock is whether the Humane Education Society has the manpower to enforce the law, but Bilyeu said that essentially is what it does now.
Although city officials say dangerous dogs are not a huge problem in Red Bank at the moment, they want to pass the ordinance more as a precaution than anything else.
“Anything that will help protect our citizens as well as other pets is probably a good thing for us to be looking into and for us to try to make changes to make it better,” said Dorsey.
The commissioners decided to determine the cost of enforcing the ordinance, plus discussing the details with Bilyeu as they go forward.
Continue reading by following these links to related stories:
Perla Trevizo joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2007 and covers immigration/diversity issues and higher education. She holds a master’s degree in newswire journalism from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas. In 2011 she participated in the Bringing Home the World international reporting fellowship program sponsored by the International Center for Journalists, producing a series on Guatemalan immigrants for which she ...