City officials in Elk Grove, California, are considering how to handle troublesome animals, especially vicious dogs, on the heels of an Aug. 20 incident when the city’s police officers shot and killed one of two pit bulls that chased people in one neighborhood and attacked and injured another dog. According to an article in the Elk Grove Citizen, the other dog that was spared was not considered “vicious” under Elk Grove’s municipal code because it did not injure a human being or kill another animal.
The dogs’ owner was reportedly cited for letting the dogs run loose, failing to license the pets and not showing proof that the dogs had received rabies vaccinations. The Elk Grove City Council is considering changing the way the municipal code defines “vicious” and “dangerous” animals. Council members are also considering giving police officers more power in deciding whether to take an animal into custody.
There is no question that the City of Elk Grove should make and approve the amendments to their code. Consider these statistics: About 5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Nearly half of the dog bites occur among children below 14 years of age.
By strengthening municipal laws to indentify and remove vicious dogs from neighborhoods, city officials will be protecting a lot of children in their communities. These changes will also give the law some weight by enabling city officials to remove a vicious dog from a neighborhood before it attacks, injures or kills. Such a new ordinance will certainly make the city’s neighborhoods safer.
Many cities across the country are also considering breed bans – outlawing breeds such as pit bulls and rottweilers – two breeds that have been involved in a majority of dog attack fatalities and attacks causing severe injuries to victims. But given the resistance from pit bull advocates, new and improved ordinances such as the one proposed in Elk Grove, may actually help protect residents by making dog owners responsible for their pets. An increasing number of California cities also require dog owners to carry liability insurance.