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|[BSL-UPDATES] Moses Lake to regulate pit bulls (WA)
Moses Lake to regulate pit bulls
Posted: Thursday, Nov 13, 2008 - 03:05:08 pm PST
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By Candice Boutilier
Herald staff writer
City declares animals hazardous
MOSES LAKE - Moses Lake City Council approved an ordinance declaring pit bulls hazardous dogs and amended an ordinance adding requirements to register any dog with the city.
The ordinance and ordinance amendment were passed on the first reading Tuesday night. The ordinance requires a second reading and approval from council to be a law. The next reading is scheduled for Nov. 25 at 7 p.m.
Mayor Ron Covey told the audience the council would not listen to any public testimony during the first reading. Council listened to public testimony at a previous meeting and gathered information from a committee created to suggest modifications to the ordinances. He said council will listen to public testimony about the issue at the Nov. 25 council meeting instead.
City Manager Joe Gavinski told council he wrote the ordinances after listening to council concerns during a past meeting.
Covey said since there is strong opposition to banning pit bulls, the city will become more rigid with enforcing regulation of the animals.
A hazardous dog includes any dog known to be a pit bull terrier breed including the American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or the American Staffordshire Terrier, according to the ordinance.
A hazardous dog can include other dogs if it has a tendency to attack unprovoked or causes injury or endanger humans or other animals. The definition includes any dog that frequently snarls, growls, snaps, threatens or jumps at a person on public property.
The dog owner would be required to confine the dog in a secure enclosure and post signs indicating there is a hazardous dog, if the ordinance passes. The dog would be required to have a microchip installed and be spayed or neutered. The dog owner would be required to have a $250,000 insurance policy on the animal in case it harms someone.
It was previously proposed the dog owner be required to have a $250,000 surety bond but council chose to eliminate the requirement.
Councilmember Richard Pearce said he didn't think citizens would be able to obtain insurance for an animal if it's declared hazardous.
"It's a privilege, not a right to have a vicious animal," Councilmember James Liebrecht said.
He said it's unacceptable to have animals that could harm someone in the city.
Pearce said the committee is against including specific breeds in the ordinance because there are many kinds of dogs that can be dangerous and it would be difficult to enforce.
Covey said law enforcement needs guidelines so they can handle pit bulls and other hazardous dogs.
Police Chief Dean Mitchell said Moses Lake has a pit bull population much higher than other communities.
Whether there are regulations or not, police will deal with pit bulls everyday anyway, he said. He was not sure if adding more regulation would add more work for police.
Councilmember Brent Reese said he is against regulating a specific breed because many types of dogs can attack and not all pit bulls are violent.
"A bad dog is a bad dog," he said.
Liebrecht said he is concerned for the safety of police because they deal with pit bulls everyday.
Pearce motioned to approve the ordinance stating although he does not agree with all the stipulations in the ordinance, he wanted to allow public input at the next meeting on the issue. Liebrecht seconded the motion.
It passed 5-1 with Reese voting no.
Council approved an ordinance amendment increasing requirements to register all animals in the city after the first reading. It must be approved again to be adopted.
All dog owners would be required to submit a file containing information related to the animal when registering it at the Moses Lake Police Department, if the ordinance passes.
The file would include the dog's birth date, breed, name, statement of how the dog was obtained, when it was brought into the city and veterinary records. If applicable, the file would also contain enforcement action taken against the animal, animal shelter records, training records, temperance tests and obedience class information.
To register a dog that is not spayed or neutered, it would cost $150. The current cost is $30.
"I think it's too much," Councilmember Brent Reese said about the registration fee. "I don't see a lot of people paying that."
He said the fee is too high and sometimes people don't alter their dogs to breed them.
Covey said people sell puppies for much more than the annual fee.
Councilmember Bill Ecret said the fee acts as a deterrent to animal overpopulation in the city and at Grant County Animal Outreach.
"I think it's perfect," he said.
Ecret motioned to approve the ordinance amendment and Liebrecht seconded the motion.
The motion passed 5-1 with Reese voting against it due to the $150 registration fee.
Councilmember Dick Deane was absent from the meeting.
Covey encourages citizens to attend the next meeting when they discuss the hazardous dog ordinance and the animal control ordinance amendment again.
If citizens want to submit documents to be included in the agenda packet, they must be submitted to Executive Secretary Maxine Ivory at Moses Lake City Hall by Nov. 20.
Polite and respectful correspondence can be sent to the city clerk via snail mail or fax but must receive it no later than November 20.
City of Moses Lake
P.O. Box 1579
321 S. Balsam Street
Moses Lake, WA 98837
Phone: (509) 766-9201
Fax: (509) 766-9392
Finally, the public can speak at the city council meeting on November 25, and you do not need to put yourself on the agenda ahead of time.
Edited by author Fri Nov 14, '08 6:36am PST
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