Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
New state law keeps dog warden busy
By Amy Kronenberger
WAPAKONETA - Auglaize County dog warden Russ Bailey has stayed busy since the state passed the new vicious dog law two months ago.
He has issued six problem dog notices since the law took effect at the end of May, he told county commissioners during his monthly update with them on Tuesday.
The original law only defined a vicious dog, or one that has seriously hurt or killed a person, killed another dog or is among those commonly known as a pit bull. The new law removes pit bulls from the list and separately defines nuisance and dangerous dogs.
A nuisance dog is one that goes off its property and advances on a person in a menacing way, he said. A dangerous dog is one that actually bites a person in a menacing way. Of the six notices, one notification was for a dangerous dog and five were for nuisance dogs.
Commissioner Doug Spencer asked how Bailey determines what is menacing and if he would be punished if his dog bit an intruder on his property.
Bailey said if a dog is growling and the hair on his back is raised, it's considered menacing. If the dog actually bites unprovoked, Bailey determines whether it is dangerous, based on the situation.
"If (someone) walks up to the door and rings the bell and the dog bites, that's not dangerous," he said. "But if (someone) is in your home visiting and the dog bites, then I would deem it dangerous."
If a dog is found a nuisance, the owner is issued a warning. If an owner receives two nuisance notices, he or she automatically receives a dangerous dog notification.
If a dog is deemed dangerous, the owner must purchase a $50 dangerous dog tag every year, in addition to regular tags. The owner also must have a chip implanted in the dog, have the dog spayed or neutered, have a dangerous dog sign placed in the yard and have the dog contained or on a leash at all times.
Another change in the law gives the dog owner 10 days to appeal the finding.
Despite the removal of pit bulls from the state list, Bailey said St. Marys has kept its ordinance calling them vicious. In St. Marys, any owner of a pit bull must keep the dog in an enclosed space or must have it muzzled and on a leash.
Bailey did not say his opinion on the removal of pit bulls from state law, but he noted five of the six most recent dog bites in Auglaize County have been from pit bulls.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, Spencer said they are still looking at finances for constructing a new dog shelter.
"We still may not be able to," he said. "The need has not decreased, but borrowing money may be our only option."
Commissioners last summer bid the project for a new, 24-pen facility to replace the 14-pen Dog House in Wapakoneta. Bids came in $100,000 over estimate; the project was put on hold.
The 2,308-square-foot structure would house 24 kennels, a washroom, office, adoption room, garage, restroom, storage room and puppy room. The kennel also would include a gravel parking lot.
Commissioners recently toured Darke County's dog shelter to help with design decisions. Darke County's much larger 64-dog shelter was built about 10 to 12 years ago.
"They have some good common sense ideas there," Bergman said. "It was a no frills building, but it was functional."
Spencer noted the building had no air conditioning and was too hot.
"It was really steamy in there," he said.
Commissioners set a meeting for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 28 to tour Darke County's shelter again, this time with Bailey, before making any further decisions.