River Heights looking to get chain on irresponsible dog owners

RIVER HEIGHTS — After reported incidents of residents being bitten by pet dogs, the Planning and Zoning commission and the City Council both are cracking down on the city’s dog licensing law, to make sure no pet owner goes without giving their animal proper vaccination. The ordinance has been under review and will be set in stone after a public hearing to take place Oct. 20.”This is a serious problem. We’ve seen two people attacked by dogs, we need to get this done,” said Mayor Bill Baker at Tuesday night’s meeting.Councilwoman Kathryn Hadfield said no one has died in the U.S. from rabies in years, but when someone is infected by rabies, it’s a scary thing to see and she doesn’t want to risk it happening to a River Heights resident. She said the ordinance must be enforced and the punishment need to be more severe, because there are a number of dogs whose owners have not turned in the licensing paperwork.The deadline for dog licensing is Jan. 1. After this deadline there will be a grace period until March 1 because rabies clinics are offered in February. Proceeding after this point with a pet that is not licensed will become delinquent and is a class C misdemeanor.The ordinance now states that failure to license a dog on time will result in a $10 fine every month. They will continually be billed via mail until they show documentation of license.The planning and zoning commission discussed impounding the dog if the owner did not show record of vaccination after a second situation was issued. Animal control officer Kenny Eggleston said it is not lawful to walk on the property of the dog ordinance offender without permission from a judge. He said he is also worried about a “backlash,” from the dog owners.Eggleston said if dog owners continue to disregard the ordinance he will “take them to jail if it comes to that.” He said, “You better have your dog registered just like your vehicles.”The commission discussed sending a recording to all households as a reminder to get any dogs without licenses taken care of by the designated due date.Organization of the planning and zoning commission has been altered due to chairman Matt Syme’s resignation. Commission member Lorin Zollinger will take his seat with Chris Milbank as vice chairman. Milbank said that he will be resigning at the end of the year.

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