City Council Ponders New Dog Ordinances

By: Michael Gorsegner
By: Michael Gorsegner

February 6, 2006

New laws concerning dangerous dogs have been prevalent through the General Assembly since the session began. Tonight Charlottesville City Council took on the issue. Right now, the General Assembly is considering 13 new dog laws to curb violent pets. Council examined several ordinances that would take those measures one step further

"I sustained a puncture wound to the knee and my dog was severely injured, sustaining multiple puncture wounds to the face, neck and paws," said Holly Hatcher.

Hatcher and her dog Lucas were attacked and injured last year by a pitbull at Meade Park. She testified before City Council, asking for stricter laws making dog owners responsible for their pets.

"Ultimately, dog owners need to be held accountable for their pets and this ordinance allows for that to happen in the city," she said.

City Council is considering enacting three classifications: vicious dogs, dangerous dogs, and aggressive dogs. The first two categories would carry stiff regulation. The Aggressive Dog Ordinance is the one that caused concern.

"It is very ambiguous to determine whether an animal is aggressive before it has actually done anything," said Susanne Kogut from the SPCA.

A dog would be considered aggressive if it showed a propensity to attack others, a fact that some say is impossible to tell.

"We should have provisions for confirmed dangerous dogs. They simply can not be based on the interpretations of the general public on what they think a dog might have done if given the opportunity," said Elizabeth Beverly.

Others worried, this ordinance would divide the city.

"I suggest that we do not alienate half of the population of the City of Charlottesville with laws that would make people uncomfortable and paranoid to take their own dog out into society," said Karen Fuller.

After consideration, the Council decided to table the measures for the moment. They have decided to wait until the General Assembly decides whether to enact the laws under discussion. The Council would also like to further discuss the agressive dog law. Right now there is no set time table for any of those talks. The city is thinking of forming a committee to talk about the agressive dog ordinance.

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