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Charles Town mayor seeks to strengthen vicious animal ordinance

September 03, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- Mayor Peggy Smith told Charles Town City Council members Tuesday night she has observed several pit bull dogs in the city and said she is concerned for residents, particularly children.

Smith said the city has a law prohibiting dangerous and vicious animals but the law has weaknesses, including a lack of penalties for keeping such animals.

The law defines vicious animals as any with a "known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack."

Smith said the council's ordinance review committee will review the vicious dog law.

Smith said she recently saw a pit bull in a yard on Seminary Street and a man walking two pit bulls on another occasion on Seminary Street.

Smith said she also watched a pit bull strongly pulling a woman along as the woman was walking the dog near Jefferson Memorial Park.

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"And that's where the children are playing. My concern is how many more of these do we not know about," Smith said.

Smith said she wants the city to have a way of tracking potentially vicious dogs in the city.

City Council member Sandra Slusher Smith, who works in the Jefferson County Commission office, said dog owners are asked to designate what breed of dog they have when filling out property assessment forms for dog tags.

Smith wanted to know if that information could be forwarded to the city so city officials could inform vicious dog owners in the city that the animals are prohibited.

Smith said she researched dog attacks and learned that about 800,000 dog bites occur each year and about 1,000 people are treated daily in the country for dog bites.

"I don't want us to be liable for anything," Smith said.

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