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Aldermen, Residents Talk About Pit Bull Ordinance

Police chief to make changes before presenting the board with the legislation Feb. 8.

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 during Wednesday's board meeting. Instead, 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.

Michael E. Carter January 26, 2012 at 02:34 PM
It's hard to see both sides of this argument; can anyone enlighten me? It would seem that the awareness level among the public by and large is high with regard to the presumed temperment of these dogs. So, wouldn't follow, that if you buy one, well, you sort of know what you are getting into? BTW, dog bites are one of the VERY first things they talk about in law school, really! Wentzville's judge can fine between $1 and $500 fines for many aspects of such dog bites, regardless of this proposed ordinance AND sentence the owner up to 90 days in jail. The answer isn't always legislation, right? There are many that think we need fewer laws on the books.
cathy January 27, 2012 at 01:43 PM
In reply to Michael E. Carter.....you said with regard to the "presumed" temperment of these dogs. Yet, it sounds as if in your opinion it's a fact, not presumed. That is one of the problems with todays society. You are judging the breed and not the dog. I have worked with and been around thousands of dogs in my 55 years and I have learned that you can rarely determine whether a dog is going to be aggressive just because of it's breed. In my experience I have also found that it is usually the small dogs..the toy breeds, the miniatures who are usually more aggressive. The dog is not born mean...it is taught that by the owner, whether on purpose or because the dog is mistreated and abused. So yes, it's the owner who should be targeted in these dog bite cases, not the dogs. They are only doing what they have learned. You would benefit by going and spending time at a rescue for the type of dogs you are talking about and see what they are truly like instead of pre judging because of their breed.

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