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County Will Regulate Vicious Dogs

By David Howell

COFFEEVILLE – A vicious dog ordinance in the county will go into effect December 22, following a unanimous vote by supervisors in a recessed meeting Tuesday.
    The ordinance was adopted after numerous complaints and was described as “light” by Board Attorney John Crow.
    Crow drafted the ordinance with input from county officials prior to the meeting.
    The ordinance is not breed specific, but will regulate dogs deemed dangerous or potentially dangerous on a case-by-case basis in unincorporated areas in Yalobusha.
    “It’s not at-large ordinance, your dogs can still run loose in the county,” Crow said.
    The bulk of enforcement will fall on the sheriff’s department, who will make an initial assessment on the dog following a complaint.
    If the dog meets specific criteria, the owner will be required to pay $50, Crow explained. Additionally the dog will have to be properly restrained following that assessment.
    The ordinance also places responsibility on a dog owner prior to an actual problem occurring.
    “If the owner knows that dog is bad, then you got a potential violation,” Crow explained.    
    If the dog is deemed dangerous the ordinance also requires the dog to be vaccinated.
    “That’s already state law,” Crow added, referring to all dogs.
    The ordinance identifies penalties for the first three offenses:
    First offense – Up to 10 days in jail and a minimum $100 fine, no more than $200;
    Second offense – Mandatory 15 to 30 days jail time and a $200 to $500 fine and removal of the dog;
    Third offense –  30 to 60 days in jail, and a fine of $1,000 to $2,000 and removal of the dog.

Due Process
    The ordinance also allows a dog owner to request a hearing with supervisors if they disagree with the assessment made by the sheriff’s department.
    If the board affirms the sheriff’s department decision, the matter then can be appealed to circuit court.
    “If you don’t put this in (the ordinance) then people can raise the issue, is the ordinance constitutional,” Crow explained.
    The complete ordinance will be published in next week’s edition of the Herald.

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