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City council passes vicious animal ordinance

June 20, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

A new city ordinance will require Hagerstown residents who own vicious and dangerous animals to remove those pets from the city or face up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The Hagerstown City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to approve the ordinance.

Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer cast the dissenting vote, saying the law doesn't give the owners of vicious and dangerous animals due process.

To be deemed vicious and dangerous, an animal must attack a human or a "properly confined, restrained or controlled domestic pet" without provocation.

The ordinance does not apply to attacks on wild animals, such as birds or rabbits.

In addition, the ordinance is not breed-specific.

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

Some of the council members said during past meetings that the owners of vicious and dangerous animals weren't aware of the right to appeal.

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Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh, a strong supporter of the ordinance, disagreed, saying the right to appeal was stated clearly on the citation.

Before the ordinance was approved Tuesday, the owners of vicious and dangerous animals had to confine their pets in a building or secure enclosure to prevent contact with humans or other animals.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said about 15 such animals were living in the city.

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