BTC attorney studies proposed dog ordinance
By John Estridge, Editor
Brookville’s town attorney wants to take a closer look at a Greensburg malicious dog ordinance before putting it in place in Brookville.
Brenda Wilhelm-Waggoner, town attorney, told Brookville Town Council member Sam Schuck some of the proposed ordinance is too vague.
Schuck had presented the ordinance to Wilhelm-Waggoner prior to the BTC’s recent meeting, so she would be able to study it prior to the meeting.
According to Schuck, a committee of Brookville residents met with him concerning the need for a malicious dog ordinance after a small dog was recently killed by another dog in town.
A person was walking the small dog when the attack took place.
As an example of the proposed ordinance’s vagueness, Wilhelm-Waggoner pointed to the ordinance’s definition of a vicious or dangerous dog.
“It just says any animal that has anytime bitten a human or has demonstrated a dangerous propensity,” Wilhelm-Waggoner said. “Those are really gray words there as to what had demonstrated a dangerous propensity. So, I think we can expand on that.”
She said another example of a dangerous or vicious dog is one that attacks or bites another animal when not reasonably provoked.
Another example of a dangerous dog that was not in the proposed ordinance is one that has been trained in or competed in exhibitions of biting, she said.
Also, the proposed ordinance talks about only attacks that cause serious bodily injury. She suggested council members may want to beef up the ordinance to include all attacks that are unprovoked.
Wilhelm-Waggoner said the fine schedule related to the proposed ordinance should also be carefully perused.
She said the fine for letting a dog run loose is a graduated fine, meaning it increases with every new violation; however, the vicious dog part of it is capped at $100.
“I think you would want to graduate that,” Wilhelm-Waggoner said. “I am not sure why they didn’t graduate that.”
She said the state code has criminal sanctions against the owner if the dog injures a human being, but it does not if the dog injures another animal.
A $100 maximum fine may not deter many people, and that may have to be increased, she said.
According to Wilhelm-Waggoner, she did research into dog-related ordinances, and towns and cities have historically had the power to destroy a vicious dog or even one running at large.
Brookville Town Police Department Assistant Chief Tim Wilkerson, who was at the meeting for another matter, told council the county dog warden, Steve Monroe, responds to complaints within the town limits.
He is called by the police department.
According to Wilkerson, the situation is working well. Monroe holds an animal if instructed by the town police department.
“If we tell him to put a hold on a dog until we tell him it can be released, he will be happy to do that,” Wilkerson said.
Wilhelm-Waggoner said the cost of the dog warden’s time and the cost of holding the dog could be added to the fine structure.
“It’s a decent start,” Wilhelm-Waggoner said. “But I want to change some things, and the board needs to decide how far they want them to go.”
Schuck said the proposed ordinance should be modernized in items like recognizing invisible fence type of restraints for dogs.
Wilhelm-Waggoner said she will work on the ordinance with Schuck’s assistance.
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