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May 17, 2007

Ordinance on ownership of vicious dogs sought

Marion County Planning Commission to address matter during June meeting

FAIRMONT — The potential creation of an ordinance to ban or regulate the ownership of vicious dogs within the county was presented to the Marion County Planning Commission Thursday evening.

And before the body’s next meeting, members at least expect to have enough information for a discussion on the subject.

Originally brought before the county commission last week, the request to create this type of law stemmed from the recent killing of a Sheltie owned by Benton’s Ferry resident Mike Chapman.

Chapman said his wife was walking the dog in their neighborhood approximately three weeks ago when a neighbor’s pit bull allegedly freed itself from its fenced-in yard and attacked and killed their pet.

Chapman said he ultimately hopes that a legal body will completely ban this particular breed of dog within county borders.

“These dogs have a certain reputation, and it’s very clear from this attack how bad it can be,” he said. “I don’t think anybody will deny how vicious they are.”

Currently, the matter is awaiting a June 15 trial in which the owner of the dog was charged with harboring a vicious animal, and the dog has since been confined.

With claims that an ordinance regulating dogs should not be breed-specific, Robert Tuttle, another county resident and the former owner of four of these types of dogs, also addressed planning commission members with facts and statistics about vicious dogs that he gathered from the Internet.

Stating the term “pit bull” generally refers to a series of three different breeds of dogs, — American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers — Tuttle said that it would not be feasible to specifically ban or regulate “pit bulls.”

He suggested instead that the county look into creating a broad vicious-dog ordinance to ban or regulate all dangerous canines within county borders.

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