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Animal ordinance needs to be redrafted

April 17, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN

A proposed ordinance that would ban vicious and dangerous animals from the City of Hagerstown must be redrafted before the City Council considers approving the legislation next week.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner told the City Council during a Tuesday work session that he wanted two amendments made to the ordinance.

The first would provide language that clearly states an animal owner has the right to appeal once his or her animal is deemed vicious and dangerous, he said. The second would ensure that in order to be deemed vicious and dangerous, an animal must attack a human or another domesticated animal.

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A cat killing a wild rabbit, for example, would not fall under the vicious and dangerous category, he said.

Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer echoed Metzner, saying she also wanted language that states a resident has the right to appeal. She said residents who didn't understand their right to appeal in previous cases should receive a second chance.

Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society of Washington County, told the council that the county attorney would have to make that decision.

The council discussed forming a committee that would hear vicious and dangerous animal cases within the city. As it stands, only the county has local authority to do so.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said the committee should include at least three members ? one each from the board of public safety, the police department and City Hall.

The council has discussed the vicious and dangerous animal ordinance at great length this year.

The ordinance, as it is currently drafted, states a resident has 10 days to appeal after being served notice that his or her animal has been labeled vicious and dangerous.

If a resident loses an appeal, he or she must remove the animal from the city or possibly face 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

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