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Council tables vicious animal ordinance

March 29, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday night to table an ordinance that would ban vicious and dangerous animals in the city.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner suggested that the council table the ordinance until the next regular meeting for further review.

That meeting will be April 24 at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

Metzner said he wants to have more information about how Washington County officials deem animals to be vicious and dangerous.

During a City Council work session last month, Police Chief Arthur Smith said animals are considered vicious and dangerous, in part, if they attack a human or another animal without provocation.

Metzner said he wants any future ordinance that addresses vicious and dangerous animals to contain specific language that gives the animal owner the right to appeal.

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The issue should be resolved within the next month, he said.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh, who cast the dissenting vote, said that might be too long.

She held up a picture of her 10-year-old niece, who suffered serious injuries after a pit bull attack four years ago. The girl still requires surgery as a result, Nigh said.

The dog involved in that attack was initiated by two others, she said.

"This (ordinance) needs to come sooner than later," Nigh said.

She implied that the owners of vicious and dangerous dogs are protected enough already.

"The animal control board is more lenient than I would be," she said.

The proposed ordinance would give people 10 days to appeal once a pet is labeled vicious and dangerous. If an appeal isn't filed, it would be illegal to keep the animal in the city.

Failure to comply could carry a 90-day jail sentence and $500 fine.

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