We learned in November that the Baker City, Oregon city council created an advisory committee to research and draft a dangerous and vicious dog ordinance in response to a fatal dog attack. The advisory committee, which included members of the police department, city staff, and citizens, ultimately drafted two proposals for the consideration of city officials.
One proposal declared “pit bulls” as potentially dangerous dogs, while the second called for a hearing officer (or court) to hear and weigh evidence before declaring a dog dangerous, no matter its breed.
With the exception of the breed specific language, the two proposals were extremely similar and very comprehensive. You can read our previous post for more specific details of the ordinance, including identifying dangerous behaviors, addressing problem dog owners, and the restrictions applied to dogs determined dangerous based on their behavior.
At the city council meeting on December 10, 2013, the council members, along with some of the committee members, discussed the proposals, and particularly the breed specific clause. It was determined that the comprehensive, breed-neutral ordinance addressed dangerous and vicious dogs, as well as problem owners, and the breed specific language was not necessary.
Councilman Coles motioned to delete the language regarding “pit bulls,” and Councilwoman Mosier seconded his motion. With all the remaining members of the council in favor, the breed specific language was removed , and the ordinance was passed on its first and second readings. A copy of the ordinance can be found in the voluminous January 14, 2014 city council meeting packet.
At the council meeting on January 14, the council passed into law, a comprehensive, breed-neutral ordinance that deems dogs dangerous based on their behavior and after a hearing officer has weighed the evidence against them. The ordinance also addresses problem dog owners.
I confirmed with the city clerk this morning that the breed-neutral ordinance goes into effect on February 13, 2014.
Rather than make a knee-jerk decision to a tragic, isolated incident, the city council and committee members thoroughly researched the issue and drafted an ordinance that, in the words of the police chief, will create a safer community by addressing problem dogs, as well as their owners.
Well done, Baker City.