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Ogden • City Council members may have stripped any references to pit bulls from the city's new dangerous-dog ordinance, but they left enough bite in the new law to put dog owners on notice.
The ordinance, in the works since early 2009, passed 5 to 2 Tuesday, with council members Doug Stephens and Amy Wicks voting against it because portions will need to be tweaked as city administrators devise a "good pet-owner program" over the next few months.
Prior to the vote, Ogden resident James Humphreys voiced concerns about the ordinance being too specific and urged the council to table the matter for a couple of weeks.
"You're very specific about the definition of what a dangerous dog is and the process to determine that," Humphreys said. "But in practical application, the enforcement officer or animal services director makes that determination."
The new law says a dog is potentially dangerous if its owner has been cited twice or more in a year's time for letting the dog run loose. It also applies to an unprovoked dog that exhibits aggressive behavior from its enclosed area.
The ordinance requires that these dogs be micro-chipped and their owners carry $50,000 in liability insurance.
Bob Geier, former director of the city's no longer functioning animal shelter, pointed out that all dogs are territorial and this new classification could mark any dog as potentially dangerous.
"This will be used [by] neighbor against neighbor," Geier said, warning that by summer, people will be taking videos and using surveillance equipment to get their neighbors ticketed.
Councilwoman Susan Van Hooser felt it was urgent to get the new law in place by spring.
"I would hope we'd be able to trust our officers about determining some of these situations," Van Hooser said. "There has to be some control because you have small children in backyards."
Alene Evans, Ogden's code enforcement/animal control supervisor, was pleased with the vote and the council's agreeing to further tweak the ordinance in the next few months.
Evans said that the good pet owner program should be ready to roll out in March and could allow discounts for residents who undergo pet-care training.
"We want people to have pets, to love them and to properly care for them," Evans said.
The new ordinance also contains an unlawful tethering section that prohibits inhumane or unsafe restraint of dogs and limits tethering time to 10 hours per day.