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Crossville board rescinds ban on all pit bulls, asks village attorney to revise its ordinance
By BARRY CLEVELAND Of The Times Staff
Published: Thursday, July 5, 2007 4:27 PM CDT
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The Crossville Village Board Tuesday night rescinded its June 12 decision to ban pit bulls from the village.

The board also asked Rhonda Blades, the village attorney, to research Illinois laws and other municipalities' ordinances dealing with animal control and recommend a course of action that would effectively deal with the potential problem of dangerous dogs at large.

The action came during a sometimes contentious meeting of the board, held at the Crossville Village Hall. During the two-hour, ten-minute session, the board also hired Mark Worlds of Crossville as a part-time police officer, put on hold implementation of its new ordinance allowing residents to use golf carts on village streets and tabled a request for a permit to place a 26-year-old mobile home on a lot in the village.

The board had enacted the pit bull ban at its previous meeting, after hearing from Crossville residents Melody and Steve Nelson about an incident involving a neighbor's pit bull.

But the action, taken without any input from Blades (who was not present at the June 12 meeting), quickly came under fire, with various organizations pointing out that Illinois law prohibits municipalities from banning specific breeds of dogs.

"I started getting calls about it the next day," Blades told the board Tuesday night.

"You need to rescind that action, then look at measure to redo your existing ordinance or replace it," she said, adding that she has examined other ordinances and found some that might be good models for Crossville. The village's existing ordinance needs to be more specific in terms of animal behavior prohibited, and it needs more "teeth," she said. And she noted that the village apparently has a 1989 animal control ordinance on the books which has never been repealed.

The board voted unanimously (with Trustee Henry Feldmann absent) to rescind its June 12 decision, with Blades indicating she'll move quickly to recommend a course of action.

Later in the meeting, Steve Nelson brought up the subject again, asserting that the pit bull which prompted the original complaint was recently seen running loose in its yard (with a leash around its neck, but no one holding the leash). He said the animal control officer (Wayne Spicer) was alerted. Nelson and Spicer then engaged in a discussion of what happened and what was said on that occasion; Spicer said the dog was loose for only a few seconds, and "I didn't think it was a big deal." He called Nelson's complaint "nit-picking. " But Nelson said he was told that it wasn't against the ordinance if the dog were running loose, so long as there was a leash around its neck. Spicer denied saying that.

Blades reviewed the ordinance in effect, and she said the incident (as described by Nelson) would constitute a "dog at large" and is clearly prohibited by the ordinance.

"This ordinance has to be followed until it's amended," she said, adding that the Nelsons followed the proper procedure in registering complaints and adding that, on the third complaint, a citation should be issued.

Spicer, clearly irritated, said "I can play hardball, too." He said that there are many dogs spotted lying in their yards, without a leash, and wondered if he should impound those.

The pit bull in question belonged to a son of Trustee Rick Kuykendall, who told the board that his son plans to move from the apartment complex near the Nelson home "as soon as he can get the money." His son thought, said Kuykendall, that so long as the dog was in his yard, it was legal for it to be unrestrained. Rick York, the Carmi police officer who has been patrolling Crossville on a part-time basis (while not on duty in Carmi), suggested that Spicer provide the owners of dogs against whom complaints are registered with a copy of the village ordinance.

http://www.carmitimes.com/articles/2007/07/05/news/news2.txt

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