Aggressive dog

Carrollton is looking to update its ordinance to address aggressive dogs.

An item aiming to amend a section of the Carrollton code of ordinances regarding dangerous dogs was pulled from the agenda Tuesday and will be considered at a later date. 

Several council members voiced confusion over some of the definitions presented in amendment. 

Carrollton Mayor Kevin Falconer said this item, which is aimed at Title XI, Chapter 91, “Animal Regulations” of the code of ordinances regarding dangerous dogs, was presented during the Nov. 21, 2019, council work session. This came after cases involving dog-on-dog attacks that resulted in the death of a residents’ dog. 

This item was again presented to the Carrollton City Council on July 21, 2020. 

Among the proposed changes is the processing of dog-on-animal attacks. Animal Services wants to change the definition of a dangerous dog to be one that attacks a person or animal unprovoked outside of its secured enclosure and causing serious injury. This allows the dog and owner more flexibility if the dog is not entirely at fault for the attack. If an animal trespasses on a dog’s secured enclosure, the dog will not be considered a dangerous animal.

Under the proposed changes, Animal Services would investigate a dog-on-animal attack and assess the level of threat the dog poses in addition to issuing citations as necessary. The department would then send a letter to the owner notifying them of the dog’s impoundment.

Animal services also requested that dog-on-animal attacks also allow for a hearing to allow due process to both the victim and the owner. Owners whose dogs are not euthanized would then have 30 days to comply with the stipulations in place to not euthanize their dog – 10 days more than what the current ordinance states.

If a stray dog is impounded, Animal Services would allow a minimum of three days for the owner to comply with stipulations and retrieve their dog.

Council member Steve Babick said he remains concerned about what is defined as “provoking a dog” and how self defense comes into play. 

He added that his concern over the amendments’ stance on a dogs’ intent to attack based on provocation and the “bad dog” is one that is responding to provocation. 

Animal Services Director Carl Shooter said that if a pet is on a leash and provoked by a stray, the stray dog would be at fault for the attack. 

Council member John Sutter said he is troubled when “we try to change ordinances for a very small microcosm” of two cases, where the owner of the dogs in question resisted fines up to $20,000. 

Shooter said the owner did not voluntarily give up the dogs and this ordinance does not require voluntary compliance. 

“Do we really think this is necessary?”Sutter asked. 

Shooter said the city in its ordinance is seeking “another tool in our toolbox,” which is helpful for the city to provide immediate response when serious injury occurs to an animal or person. 

Reporter Winston Henvey contributed to this report.

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