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Dangerous dog law unleashed

City considers finalized proposal

May 5, 2009

An ordinance regulating "dangerous dogs" is ready for approval.

The West Allis License and Health Committee made minor adjustments to the proposal last week before approving it unanimously and sending it to the Common Council, which was scheduled to discuss the issue May 5 after the Greenfield-West Allis NOW's press deadline.

The ordinance outlines several definitions of a dangerous dog, which include one that has caused bodily harm or has "an apparent attitude of attack."

A law enforcement officer or a Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control employee would issue an order declaring a dog to be dangerous. The proposal allows a police or health officer to use some discretion on when to issue an order.

Owners' responsibilities

Under the ordinance, the owner of a dog declared dangerous would have to register it with the city and abide by other requirements.

The owner would have to keep the dog leashed and muzzled or confined at all times, post a "dangerous dog" sign on his or her property, and have the dog sprayed or neutered. Dangerous dogs would also need to have microchips inserted under the skin for easier identification.

The owner would have 30 days to comply or 72 hours to appeal the order to the city's Board of Health.

Violations could lead to a fine between $50 and $1,000.

Banned dogs

The ordinance also defines a "prohibited dangerous dog" - animals that would be banned from the city entirely.

Among other circumstances, a prohibited dog would be one that has killed a domesticated animal unprovoked, has inflicted serious bodily harm on a person, or comes from another jurisdiction where it has already been declared dangerous or vicious.

A copy of the proposed ordinance can be found on the city's Web site, ci.west-allis.wi.us.

No residents spoke at the committee's April 28 meeting. An earlier version of the ordinance produced few complaints when presented in January, a month after Mayor Dan Devine vetoed an ordinance banning pit bulls.

- Mark Schaaf, Staff Writer

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