By Myrna Trauntvein
Some changes need to be made to the wording of an amendment to a city ordinance dealing with dogs running loose and vicious dogs in Nephi.
"This was the first draft of the proposed amendment," said Mark Jones, Nephi City mayor.
Denton Hatch, attorney for the council, had prepared a draft ordinance concerning the subject for council members to review however, there was some concern from council members about the section dealing with the killing of a dog.
After the council discussed the amendment, they directed Hatch to make some changes in wording and return to the council with another draft.
"The input of the chief of police and the animal control officer are still to come," said Randy McKnight, city administrator.
The proposal came about because Nephi City Council has been approached by citizens who have had unpleasant encounters with dogs at large and dogs who are vicious. As a result, the council decided that an amendment to the ordinance relating to dogs at large and vicious animals was needed.
It was the amendment of a section of the City Code Section 5-2-6 entitled "VICIOUS DOG" that raised the concern of some council members.
It reads: "Dogs May Be Killed: Any person may kill a dog while it is committing any of the acts specified in subsection A.1. of this Section or while such dog is being pursued thereafter."
Greg Rowley, council member, said he was concerned about how the dog could be killed.
"It is against city ordinance to fire a gun within city limits," he said.
He did agree that a person should have a right to defend against a dog attack. How a dog could be killed, however, was a matter that should be addressed.
"There is a fine line," said Jones.
Blaine Malquist, resident, said that very rarely did a person have a firearm with them when they were attacked and he, personally, had to rely on other means to protect himself in an attack.
"Putting a firearm into play would be fairly dangerous," said John Shepherd, police officer.
It is clear in the ordinance that no dog owner would be allowed to let the animal attack.
"It shall be unlawful for the owner or person having charge, care, custody or control of any dog to allow such dog to attach, chase or worry any person, any domestic animal having a commercial value, or any species of hoofed protected wildlife, or to attack domestic fowl," said Hatch.
"Worry," as used in this Section, means to harass by tearing, biting or shaking with the teeth.
Jones restated the idea asking what sort of defense would be allowed?
Rowley said he thought that the wording dealing with a dog chasing an individual also needed clarification so that would indicate that the animal must be doing more than just barking and following an individual before it was killed.
"What does that entail?" asked Rowley.
Wade Gee, council member, said he also had a concern with the wording which concerned the dog "being pursued" after the animal had left the scene.
Did that mean that a dog could be found later and killed where it was found by the citizen? he asked.
Don Ball, city resident, said that there had been a great deal of news about the stand your ground laws.
A Stand-Your-Ground law is a type of self-defense law that gives individuals the right to use deadly force to defend themselves without any requirement to evade or retreat from a dangerous situation. Such laws allow defense in a situation that might otherwise bear criminal charges.
Hatch said that the owner of an at-large or vicious dog was liable for damages to any person injured or to the owner of any animal injured or destroyed.
He said that there were two circumstances mitigating the penalties or damages or in dismissing the charge: That at the time the dog was properly confined on the premises and that the dog was deliberately or maliciously provoked.
The ordinance amendment makes it unlawful for any person to own and possess a vicious dog within the city.
When a prosecution begins, the dog involved may not be redeemed while awaiting final decision of the court.
Upon the trial of any offense under this section, the court may order the animal control officer or other authorized personnel of the city to put the dog to death.
Hatch said that the City Code Section 5-2-9 entitled "DOGS AT LARGE" was also to be amended.
Council members found no fault with the suggested fine increases.
It shall be unlawful for the owner or keeper of any dog to permit such dog to run at large.
"The fine for the first offense is $50, $100 for the second offense and $150 for the third offense and other offenses after the third offense," Hatch said.
The owner of a dog running at large is in violation regardless of the precautions taken to prevent the escape of the dog and to prohibit it from running at large.
Any dog running at large is declared to be a nuisance and a menace to the public health and safety, and the dog will be impounded.
Any dog will be deemed a nuisance if it causes damages to the property of anyone other than its owner or custodian, causes unreasonable fouling of the air by odors, defecates on any public street, sidewalk, park, or building, or on any private property without the consent of the owner of the property, unless the owner or custodian of the animal immediately removes any such defecation to his own property.
A dog is a nuisance if it barks, whines, howls or makes other disturbing noises in an excessive or continuous fashion, harasses passers-by or chases passing vehicles or is determined by the Department of Public Safety of Utah County Health Department to be a public nuisance by virtue of being offensive or dangerous to the public health, welfare or safety.
Any dogs that, by virtue of the number maintained, are determined by the Department of Public Safety to be offensive or dangerous to the public health, welfare or safety are also a nuisance.