Locally, a Town Does it Right: Non-Breed Specific “Vicious Dog” ordinance

March 5, 2009

The awkwardly named Shelton, CT Board of Alderman’s Public Health and Safety Committee has got it right with the draft of an ordinance that allows the town’s animal control officer to label a dog ‘vicious’ without respect to breed. This designation would allow Shelton to hold the owner liable for property damage and for attacks on other animals, according to a story in The Connecticut Post.

They’re also considering fines, requiring signs at the home of a ‘vicious’ dog, a special, pricier dog license and permanent tattooing of such dogs. The town ACO would also have the ability to euthanize a ‘vicious’ dog.

As everyone here knows, attacks by dogs are not a breed-specific issue. It’s an issue of “irresponsible ownership.”

I’m curious as to what conditions they use in this new law to label a dog vicious. Will the common-sense “every dog gets one bite free rule” still apply? Exactly what does your dog need to do in order to qualify as vicious? Let’s hope that the final draft of this proposal gives the ACO a fair standard to apply.

Where I live the town has a nuisance barking ordinance that sets the bar so low there isn’t a single dog not in violation at some point: 4 barks within 15 minutes is considered “excessive” and you can be fined.

When the rule is this bad you know that it can only be selectively applied, meaning of course, that if you live in a low income section of town you can forget about ever seeing this enforced.


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