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Hagerstown postpones vicious animal discussion

May 02, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - For the past three months, the Hagerstown City Council has debated passing an ordinance that would ban vicious and dangerous animals from the city.

The debate continued during a Tuesday night work session.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh argued once again that the city needs the ordinance as soon as possible to protect residents from being attacked by vicious and dangerous animals.

Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer contended that the owners of vicious and dangerous animals must be given due process. In other words, the ordinance must contain language that gives those pet owners the clear right to appeal any decision that labels their pets as vicious and dangerous, she said.

To be called vicious and dangerous, an animal must attack a human or another domesticated animal without being provoked. As it stands, only Washington County officials have the authority to label animals in Hagerstown as vicious and dangerous.

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Some council members want the city to have its own rules for governing vicious and dangerous animals, rather than leaving things up to the county.

It also has been suggested that the city create its own board to review such appeals.

Cromer said it's just a matter of working with the county commissioners to make the process complete.

Nigh and Councilman Martin Brubaker said the commissioners aren't likely to act anytime soon because the issue isn't high on their list of priorities.

"It is our choice," Nigh said. "This has been going on (too long)."

In the end, the council half-heartedly agreed to push the discussion back to a regularly scheduled meeting May 22.

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