New pet ordinance aims to stop dog attacks before they happen

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A new dog ordinance passed by the Wichita City Council has created a new label for dogs that could potentially attack someone.

A ‘potentially dangerous’ dog label has been created, and is likely one week away from final approval for implementation in Wichita.

The city already has a dangerous dog labeling system, ranked levels 1 through levels 3. Level 1 is when the animal punctures the skin but the injuries are minor. Level 2 is when the animal bites the skin with a deep puncture or causes bruising and the person needs medical attention. Level 3 is when the animal attacks so severely that it causes the person to go to the hospital or immediate medical attention.

All of those rankings have corresponding fines for the owners, which have also been approved to increase with the new ordinance;

  • Level 1 - $250.00 (Previously $150.00)
  • Level 2 - $500.00 (Previously $250.00)
  • Level 3 - $1000.00 (Previously $500.00) 

The potentially dangerous dog label would be associated with incidents like when a minor bite, nip, scratch and abrasion against the skin is visible. It could also apply if the dog jumps on someone in an aggressive manner and will not let them get up.

Previously, the owner of a dog that was reported to cause such incidents would receive a letter of intent, telling them the dog should be monitored and any additional incidents could result in fines. Now the potentially dangerous dog label will be used.

An animal control officer says dog owners would have to do the following; pay a $50 annual registration fee; microchip the animal; and place signs on their property stating ‘dangerous dog on premises'. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, the dog's owner could also be required to attend education training, canine aggression training, sterilize the animal, and add liability insurance.  

The animal control officer would have discretion over the incident to place the label of ‘potentially dangerous.’ An example Wichita Animal Control gave, is if a large dog jumped on someone in an aggressive or playful manner and scratched their arm, it could be a determination for the label.

Wichita dog owner Cole McGregor says he likes how the city is cracking down on dog attacks but does worry about what happens if a good dog has just one instance where it acts up.

“If a bad day did happen, I would hope that the city could be reasonable with me and be willing to work with me in terms of working through the regulations."  

Other animal ordinance changes are increasing are animal-at-large calls to $100 per incident, and changes to the mandates for Level 1 and Level 2 incidents.

A big push for these changes is Wichita’s national ranking for dog attacks. In 2016, there were more than 1,000 reported dog attacks in the city limits.And just last Saturday, a dog bit a postal carrier.

One important note, is this ordinance is not dog breed specific. The postal carrier was bitten by a Chihuahua, and animal control officers report some smaller dogs can be just as vicious as larger dogs.

A spokesperson for United States Postal Service tells KAKE News the new ordinance would be helpful for their postal carriers. Signs stating ‘dangerous dog on premises’ would help their carriers identify which homes they need to be careful around.

The ordinance was approved unanimously by the city council on Tuesday and will be considered for final approval on October 10, 2017. 

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