Royal City dog ordinance fines cost $400
Posted: Friday, Dec 22, 2006 - 02:07:08 pm PST
By Candice Boutilier
Herald staff writer
Police allow K-9s to pass through
ROYAL CITY -- The Royal City dog ordinance is going to be enforced by impounding the animals, citations and warnings.
If an officer witnesses someone driving through the city with a rottweiler or a pit bull in their vehicle, they are ticketed, City Attorney Jim Whitaker said. If someone is passing through who is not from Royal City, they will most likely receive a warning to let them know about the ordinance, he added.
The Washington State Patrol and the Royal City Police Department agreed if the patrol has to pass through the city to reach another area with a banned dog in their unit, it will be allowable, Trooper Rich Magnussen said.
"The state patrol is about public safety," Magnussen said. "The ordinance won't prevent us from reaching our goal of public service."
Although there are pit bulls with the patrol who serve as narcotic search dogs, there are also other breeds not banned the city can utilize for the same purposes, he said. It is a free service and it is their choice to use it, he added.
If a citizen or someone who already received a warning is caught with a banned dog in their vehicle, the citation is expected to cost at least $210 plus state surcharges making the sum of the ticket about $400, Whitaker said.
Several people attended the Dec. 19 city council meeting to oppose the ordinance. A pit bull type dog was brought to the meeting in an attempt to show how safe the animals can be.
The mayor demanded it be removed from the council chambers. Since the ordinance takes effect Jan. 12, no ticket was issued for the pit bull being out of a cage.
During the meeting, it was revealed the dog had bitten someone before.
The person bitten was a Royal City Police officer in early November, Police Chief Darin Smith said. The bite drew blood and the officer was transported to the Moses Lake Clinic to treat his right calf, he said. The officer came to Bartlett's residence to assist with a car impound at their request.
According to the report, the dog allegedly followed the officer to the door, growled and lunged. The officer reportedly kicked at the dog and missed. The dog lunged a final time, biting the officer, Smith said. The other dog owner at the residence grabbed the dog away from the officer to prevent another bite, he said.
According to the police report, owner John Schlehuber said the dog bit three other people and he was through with the animal, Smith said. There were no reports of the three bites, he added.
Schlehuber was asked not to euthanize the dog, rather to keep it contained for the sake of the bitten officer in case it had rabies, he said. Police expected the dog would be relocated but that was not the case when the dog was brought to the Tuesday council meeting.
"Since (Bartlett) showed up Tuesday night, I suspect the police department will probably issue an infraction," Whitaker said.
The pit bull was declared a vicious dog because it bit someone, he added.
Whitaker clarified, if a pit bull or a rottweiler are seen within city limits after the ordinance is in effect, the owner is cited and the dog is impounded. Once the dog is impounded the owner gets a 10-day notice to reclaim the dog if they pay the fine and relocate it outside city limits, he said.
Mayor Justin Jenks recalls taking stray dogs to the pound. The ordinance is necessary to eliminate repeat offenders, he said.
Without the ordinance to remove the dogs permanently, it can be difficult for police to keep up with the dog calls, he said. If a police officer is requisition to help with domestic violence or a stray dog call, one has to take precedence over the other, Jenks said.
Three people who attended the meeting to discuss opposition to the issue all owned a pit bull or a rottweiler who bit someone and it does not sit well with him, Jenks said. He recalled one man who kept a rottweiler after it bit their child.
Councilmember Michael Noftle was indifferent over the matter initially.
What changed his mind to banning the breeds was researching the issue and looking at dog bite incidences that happened in the past, he said.
"If we're going to take the heat for being proactive, we'll take it," Noftle said. "We have hearts, we understand people have pets and it's hard. It's an emotional issue."
He believes the council is doing the right thing for their citizens because they do not want the story about a dog who mauls a child to come from Royal City, he said. The council is trying to protect citizens who have not been hurt by the banned dogs and those who have been chased, intimidated or bit, he said.