Local News

Story published: 01-02-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Stricter regulations for pets and owners being considered in county

By Karen Sells
Assistant Editor

A complaint to the county’s Public Safety Committee about a pit bull running loose in a neighborhood led Chair Roger Nave to request more information on Washington County’s right to regulate dog behavior.

“The county has one regulation on the books — excessive barking,” County Attorney John Rambo told committee members during a meeting in November. “This is the only true public nuisance declared.”

However, Rambo’s research indicates the county has the option to do much more.

There are a number of areas Washington County has the right to regulate, and fines can be issued for established violations.

Potential violations for dog owners include pets running at-large, being without a leash while in a public park, damaging or soiling property, and causing noise at night other than barking.

Owners also could be required to keep their dogs out of county rights of way, prevent them from chasing cars, and confine animals while in heat.

Other potential prohibitions could result in fines for unsanitary conditions, excessive accumulation of dogs, and intentional poisoning by individuals who complain of repeated problems.

In the case of a dangerous dog, Rambo said a court hearing could be held.

“If the dog is determined to be vicious, the pet owner could be required to post a sign and keep the dog in an enclosure,” he said.

The family who issued the complaint attended the Nov. 13 meeting to report their situation had improved somewhat. The pit bull’s owners are now walking it on a leash, they said, though they suspect the dog still runs loose during the night.

Commissioner Mike Ford made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Sam Phillips, to have Rambo compile a comprehensive list of regulations for consideration.

Rambo planned to speak with representatives from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Animal Control Board, and bring the information to the January meeting.