It will take the committee charged with putting more teeth vicious dogs regulations one more meeting to put the finishing touches on its report to the Great Bend City Council. The panel met Wednesday and will meet again at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 31.
“It appears this committee is not going to recommend a complete ban of pit bulls in the city,” said Bob Suelter, city attorney and committee chairman. It was a complaint before the council from Great Bend residents George and Zola Weber in May that sparked the discussion of banning pit bulls or other ways of curbing aggressive dogs.
Others on the committee include: Zola Weber, Reggie Kern, and RaShann Southard as at-large members of the committee; Joel Jackson and Edwin Roberts as City Council representatives; Police Chief Dean Akings as city staff representatives; and Bobbi King and Seth Orebaugh as the Golden Belt Humane Society representatives.
Suelter ran through a list of recommendations he culled from the committee’s meeting last Wednesday and went through them one by one. There was discussion and a consensus taken about keeping the ideas or pitching them.
• A new ordinance making it illegal for a child to tease a dog. There was tepid support for this with fears in would be unenforceable.
• Adding temperament testing requirement as an option for the municipal judge when a vicious dog and its owner are before the court.
• Increasing vicious dog offenses to class A misdemeanors with a maximum fine of $2,500 and one year in jail, or both.
• Stepped up patrols by the Humane Society. This was aimed at addressing the stray dog problem, which the committee divided into two parts – dogs at large (those that run away from home) and feral dogs that roam the streets. Higher fines for picking up an animal from the shelter may also be considered.
As a side note to this, King said in June, the society brought in 23 dogs, of which only four were retrieved by the owners. They are only required to hold a dog for three days before they attempt to adopt it, transfer it to another shelter or put it down.
• Encouraging proactive reporting from residents to prevent dangerous vicious dog incidents. The city would encourage people to call if they feel threatened, and the society would visit with them and the pet owner before things get out of control.
• Mandating spaying or neutering as a permit requirement. There could be exceptions for licensed breeders and owners of show dogs.
• Mandating liability insurance as a requirement for dog licensing. Most present agreed that home owners’ insurance policies would suffice. Also, judges would be granted the ability to require the extra coverage in vicious dog cases.
• Reducing from four to three the number of dogs that require an owner to have a kennel license.
Another recommendation regarding an ordinance regulating tethering of dogs was tabled after much debate. Kern, a pit bull owner, was strongly opposed, saying he thought it infringed on his rights.
Suelter will bring the revised list of suggestions to the committee July 31 for final action before the matter goes to the full council, probably sometime in August.