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  • City attorney will make revisions in city dog ordinance

By Myrna Trauntvein
Times-News Correspondent

A dog ordinance amendment will continue to the next agenda before being considered for adoption.
Denton Hatch, city attorney, returned the latest revision of the proposed amendment, which outlines fines for violations and further defines the dogs at large and vicious dogs portions of the existing ordinance.
"Denton Hatch, our attorney, has made a couple of changes to the proposed ordinance amendments after our discussion at the last council meeting," said Randy McKnight, city administrator. "We have also shared the proposed changes with the police chief and the animal control officer and received their input."
The input from those individuals was that the fine structure pertained mostly to dogs at large and they thought there needed to be something more in the ordinance, as far as a fine structure, concerning vicious or attacking dogs.
Greg Rowley, council member, said that a $250 fine had been included in the vicious dog list of fines the judge could use when such a case appeared before the municipal judge but did not appear in the list of fines in the ordinance.
He would like to see those fines listed in the same place.
"I agree," said Wade Gee, council member. "I think the fines should be incorporated in the ordinance."
"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 vicious dog fine should be listed along with those at the $250 mark.
Lisa Brough, council member, wondered if the term "vicious" should be further defined.
Police and the animal control officer would be the ones to determine whether a dog was vicious and whether there had been a violation that needed to be cited.
The chief and animal control officer had also wondered about the term that had "worry" in it.
"It shall be unlawful for the owner or person having charge, care, custody or control of any dog to allow such dog to attack, chase or worry any person, any domestic animal having a commercial value, or any species of hoofed protected wildlife, or to attack domestic fowl," read that portion.
"Worry," as used in this Section, means to harass by tearing, biting or shaking with the teeth.
Law enforcement wondered about adding some terms such as growling, threatening, aggressive behavior to the term.
A dog could be very aggressive but not to the stage of biting.
Rowley said the council had, earlier, discussed a dog that would be termed aggressive but that was short of vicious.
He wondered if the wording of chasing or worrying would give the court enough of a legal definition to prosecute.
"The judge has to make a decision on what the judge is told by witnesses," said Hatch. "It sounds like the additions suggested by the chief and animal control officer would help."
One lady had told him, said Jones, that if a dog came toward her barking, circling, and set on her, she was worried at that point.
McKnight said that, in keeping with the thoughts of the police, the words suggested might be added in combination to the term worrying so that the behaviors would be inclusive.
Hatch also took out the section on dogs being killed.
A judge can make the determination on whether or not a dog should be killed and can order that.
In other instances, the dog could be killed if it was termed in "self-defense" and was deemed necessary to save ones own life, said Rowley.
Some of the law, dealing with killing a dog, is covered in Utah Code, said Hatch. For example, if a dog is chasing or killing domestic animals it can be killed.
"If someone sued because the dog was killed," said Hatch, "then the judge would be making the decision."
Hatch said that Utah Code did cover the protection of domestic animals and fowl. If it kills animals, then the dog can be killed.
Blair Painter, city clerk/recorder, asked what would be the case if a dog was found to be killing fowl that were kept in the city in an illegal area in violation of city ordinance.
Jones said that he thought that a dog at large killing domestic fowl kept in an illegal place in the city would result in both the owner of the dog and the owner of the chickens being found in violation.
"I'll take these further recommendations and make the necessary revisions," said Hatch.
Those revisions will be ready at the next council meeting in two weeks.
"The police department has recorded 789 incidents over the last little while, so there is enforcement happening," said Rowley.
However, for officers to enforce city ordinances they need to be aware of violations. That means that the residents of the community need to report offenses, Rowley said.