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Council grapples with dog attacks

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Posted: Wednesday, April 5, 2006 12:00 pm | Updated: 3:17 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By Sarah Chacko

Killeen Daily Herald

Pictures of bloody injuries and snarling canines provided a backdrop for Councilman Eddie Vale Jr. as he discussed dangerous dogs at a City Council workshop Tuesday.

"As graphic as they are, I just want to illustrate the importance of this topic," Vale said.

Citing information from various Web sites, Vale said that dog attacks are the second most recurring reason for hospital emergency room visits.

"Pit bulls and Rotweilers are responsible for more deaths than all other breeds combined," he continued.

Councilman Bob Hausmann said according to Debbie Neal, supervisor of the city animal shelter, about 30 to 50 dog bites are reported in the city each month.

However, of those, the most serious injuries were not inflicted by Rottweilers or pit bulls, Hausmann said.

In the last few months, one of the most serious injuries was inflicted an otherwise friendly pet who was provoked by a child throwing rocks at it, he said.

The current city ordinance defines a fierce of vicious animal as any animal that, because of its behavior, would constitute a physical threat to humans or other animals.

"A dog or cat that has, without provocation, attacked or bitten a human being or attacked another animal or livestock shall be considered vicious," the ordinance reads.

The ordinance also states that all animals should be kept under restraint.

While the city's ordinance is similar to state law, City Attorney Kathy Davis said state law allows that cities and counties can be more restrictive but they cannot make breed-specific restrictions.

Vale said the city's current ordinance is an after-the-fact approach to a problem that needs to be prevented.

An animal can be deemed vicious after it attacks a human or another animal, and only then is it kicked out of the city limits, he said.

Vale offered several proposals with the goal of preventing "an unnecessary attack by the dangerous dog of an irresponsible owner," all of which were focused on dogs that are 50 percent or more Rottweiler or pit bull.

His proposed additions included a non-refundable registration fee and home inspection for sufficient fencing, requiring the owner to secure at least $50,000 in liability insurance, and fines if the dog is found to be outside of its confines unattended or attended but unleashed.

"We've got to put some type of regulations in here so people do not have to be afraid of going out in their yards and being run down by these dogs," he said.

Heather McNeely of Fort Hood said that in February, two pit bulls attacked her miniature schnauzer at Pershing Park Elementary School in front of her 5-year-old child and a group of students.

The owner received no fine or citation, while she incurred $375 in veterinary bills and her son still has nightmares about the incident, she said.

"The people that own these types of animals don't take responsibility," she said.

Councilman Dick Young said because pit bulls are already a mixed breed, it would be hard to decipher how much of a dog is of the breed.

He also noted that more breeds could account for dangerous dogs, including Doberman pinschers.

The council reached a consensus to send the issue back to the animal advisory committee for further consideration.

In other business, the council briefly discussed multifamily housing.

Planning Director Tom Dann presented a list of possible additions that the council can make to the city's current zoning ordinance.

The council reached a consensus to let a three-person committee within the Planning & Zoning Commission review the issue and come back to the council with recommendations.

The council also voted 3-2 for Councilman Ernest Wilkerson to serve as mayor pro tem, following the resignation of Mayor Pro Tem Tim Hancock last week.

Contact Sarah Chacko at schacko@kdhnews.com

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