VICIOUS DOGS: Ordinance Definition To Be Addressed

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West Des Moines city officials will address their ordinance defining what is considered a vicious animal at Monday night’s council meeting.

Currently in West Des Moines, an animal is only considered vicious if it bites a person two or more times in one year, or bites a person above the shoulders.

“We’ll look at maybe changing the definition so an animal could be deemed vicious based on conduct that didn’t lead to a bite incident,” says assistant city attorney, Jason Wittgraf.

Under the new proposal, factors like repeated snapping or chasing could be enough for an animal to be considered vicious.

The decision would be up to animal control officers.

Tom Colvin, the executive director of the Animal Rescue League agrees that cities shouldn’t wait for violent attacks to occur before an animal is deemed vicious.

But he recommends requirements for spaying a neutering to even a dog's temper, banning tethering animals which can make them territorial and giving an animal a chance to regain the trust of the community.

"I don't think the label should follow an animal its entire lifetime."

Monday night is just the first of three votes.

If approved, owners of vicious animals would also have to carry liability insurance and vicious animals could be banned from public areas like parks or playgrounds.

The owner would have a chance to appeal the decision.


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