EWARK— A proposal to ease restrictions for pit bulls in the city’s vicious dog ordinance failed in a 3-7 vote Monday night.
Only Republican council members Jeff Rath, Duke Frost and Doug Marmie voted in favor of the measure, which Rath had offered as a compromise to pit bull owners while still protecting the public.
“I think that these dogs should be treated just like any other dog unless something happened,” said pit bull owner Savannah Boley.
Boley had asked the council to change its ordinance after state lawmakers removed pit bulls from the vicious dog category, relying on an animal’s behavior to determine whether it should be identified that way.
Boley spoke at Monday night’s council meeting to support Rath’s bill, contending the city’s law has not increased public safety and has overburdened local animal control efforts. She said dog owners should be able to decide for themselves whether to buy insurance for their dogs or install an ID microchip, both of which are required by the current ordinance.
Rath, R-3rd Ward, had proposed removing the automatic status of vicious or dangerous dog for pit bulls in keeping with the recent changes at the state level.
He also had proposed removing the insurance requirement, microchip requirement and the limit of one pit bull per household.
However, Rath’s proposal would have required pit bulls to be restricted by a kennel with a lid, a tether, or behind a six-foot fence.
“I do not believe pit bulls are vicious, but I was willing to leave certain restrictions on them to help protect citizens,” Rath said after Monday’s meeting.
He said owners should be held responsible for their pets.
“I’ve not seen a house with a sign on it that says a vicious dog lives here,” Rath said. “That’s part of the requirement.”
Marmie, R-6th Ward, said he is “disappointed the pit bull legislation did not go through.”
Marmie said he thinks the city’s current ordinance has not been closely enforced while the council has been considering revamping it. He called for a monthly update to the council on pit bull enforcement, a request Rath expanded to cover “each and every vicious dog.”
The city’s safety director and animal control officer had recommended keeping Newark’s current law.
Owners of a vicious dog must post dangerous dog signs outside their home, buy a $50 dangerous dog tag in addition to the regular $15 dog tag, permanently identify their dog with a microchip, have it spayed or neutered and keep it locked up or leashed
In other action Monday, the council voted unanimously to:
• Reconsider and then table Ordinance 12-35, which the council passed Oct. 15 to create a Tax Increment Financing district at the Locust Street and Ohio 16 interchange. Marmie called for the reconsideration, saying only one of three property owners in the area had signed a service payment agreement by Monday’s council meeting. the council then tabled the ordinance until the agreements are signed.
• Waive bidding and contract with the Finley Fire Equipment Co., of McConnelsville, for $31,000 to buy turnout gear — coats and pants worn to fight fires — for 15 to 20 city firefighters.
• Require local pawnbrokers to subscribe to and use LeadsOnline or a similar electronic reporting system so law enforcement officers can check the database for property reported stolen. The measure also requires customers to present a photo ID or driver’s license.