Aldermen, Residents Talk About Pit Bull Ordinance
Police chief to make changes before presenting the board with the legislation Feb. 8.
Wentzville aldermen want harsher fines and possibly even jail time for owners of dogs that repeatedly bite other dogs or humans.
More than 60 concerned residents waited nearly three hours until the Wentzville Board of Alderman began discussing its new animal control ordinance, which will likely seek to put the onus of harsh or vicious dogs on the owners rather the pets.
The city has long had certain restrictions on pit bulls. Now, officials and concerned residents are pushing to repeal those restrictions and replace them with a new policy that would enact harsher penalties on owners of any dog that displays vicious characteristics.
The city's police department has been preparing the legislation, which was slated to be read into record for the first time during Wednesday's board meeting. Instead, newly hired police Chief Lisa Harrison came to the board in need of further clarifications on a few sections of the proposal.
Most discussed about was the need to clarify how much, if any, the city should fine a pet owner if their dog is caught biting a person or animal. The draft version of the legislation, which can be downloaded by CLICKING HERE, fined $20 for the first offense, $40 for the second and $60 for the third and subsequent offenses.
Most aldermen thought the amounts too small.
Ward 2 Alderman Chris Gard said he would like to see penalties begin at $100 for the first offense and increase to as much as $500 with possible jail time for the third offense.
Aldermen also discussed the potential of fines ranging depending on the severity of the bite—a judge would determine that—and even talked about what exactly a bite meant.
Marc Lucas, a veterinarian with Animal Talk Medical Center, said he gets bit on a regular basis during work, but the dogs are certainly not vicious and pose no threat to the public.
In the draft of the legislation, a bite was defined as any breaking of the skin caused by an animal and even included scratches.
The board also shed light on how pet owners may redeem their pets after being captured or impounded and what the term kennel actually meant. Kennel, as city attorney Doug Rost, essentially just put a limit of how many dogs a resident could own at any one time.
Harrison will take the board's suggestions and head back to the drawing table.
The board is expected to introduce the legislation officially at its next scheduled meeting on Feb. 8.