Note: This corrects an earlier article suggesting the mayor did not veto the measure. Malden Patch regrets the error.
Mayor Gary Christenson said he would not sign a city council-approved bill that will require muzzles for newly registered pit bulls in the city, but offered some suggested amendments to the law he hoped would be considered by the councilors.
"The ordinance should be centered on how a dog behaves and not how a dog looks as I believe this legislation suggests," Christenson wrote to the council.
"Enforcement alone could be problematic as accurate visual recognition of a pit bull is all but impossible, and I could foresee legal challenges to determine a dog’s heritage.
"Furthermore, crafting an ordinance based on how a dog looks does not address the fact that 100 percent of the dog bites occurring between 2009 and 2012 were from dogs that were off-leash.
"The amendment I offer squarely addresses the behavior on the part of both the dog and the owner.
You can read the full letter here.
The following is a summary of the proposals, provided by the mayor's office:
- The amendment does not contain breed specific language but muzzling remains an option for dogs of all breeds;
- A new section was established dealing with irresponsible dog owners;
- There is also a new section called “Potentially Dangerous Dogs” that enhances Paper 246 which currently only deals with dogs that bite or have a known propensity to bite. This new section would serve as a preventive measure where the Animal Control Officer would be allowed to get at dogs ahead of when they might bite and eventually be deemed “dangerous or vicious;”
- Expanded the definition of what a dangerous or vicious dog is to include a dog’s mannerisms and for dogs owned or trained for dog fighting;
- There are provisions that address insurance and property owner notification that a potentially dangerous or dangerous or vicious dog resides at the property;
- Signage requirements have been added for both potentially and dangerous or vicious dogs;
- An “intimidation” provision has been added for both the irresponsible owner and aggressive dog;
- New sections have been added to address both indoor and outdoor confinement which goes beyond the fencing provision contained in Paper 246; and
- A licensing surcharge of $50 for dangerous or vicious dogs has been added and the penalty for non-compliance of the dangerous or vicious dog section has been increased to $300 per day.