Hearings Set on Vicious Dog Ordinance

In Berkeley Springs last week, the Morgan County Commission agreed to hold public hearings on a draft ordinance that would regulate vicious dogs.

One week after ripping Commission lawyer Dick Gay for drafting an ordinance that was “pro-vicious dog and anti-victim” with “no orders to do so,” Commissioner Stacy Dugan voted with Commissioner Brad Close to approve a draft vicious dog ordinance and hold public hearings on it.

Commissioner Bob Ford was not present for the vote.

The Commission will hold two hearings on the ordinance, one on March 20 at 7 pm and one on April 3 at 10 am.

The draft ordinance declares that vicious dogs are a “public nuisance.”

The ordinance defines a vicious dog as a dog who “without provocation has killed or inflicted injury on a person” or “killed or inflicted severe injury upon a domestic animal, horse or livestock, when not on the offending dog owner’s real property,” or “approached a person when not on the offending dog owner’s property in a vicious or terrorizing manner, in an apparent attitude of attack.”

The fact that the dog is not in the habit of biting or has not bitten any person “shall not be the sole factor in determining whether the dog is vicious or dangerous.”

“Any dog owned or harbored primarily or in part for the purpose of dog fighting, or any dog trained for dog fighting,” will be considered to be a vicious or dangerous dog.

The proposed ordinance defines severe injury as “any physical injury that results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations or which required surgery or hospitalization.”

And the proposed ordinance defines injury to as “any breaking of the skin, which results in bleeding, caused by bite.”

The proposed ordinance exempts police dogs.

Also not included are incidents where the bite, attack or injury was sustained by “a person who was committing at the time a crime upon the premises occupied by the dog’s owner; committing, at the time, a willful trespass or other tort upon the premises occupied by the dog’s owner; or provoking, tormenting, or physically abusing the dog.”

The draft ordinance says that any dog finally determined to be vicious or dangerous and ordered “terminated” in accord with “the procedure” shall be “disposed of” by the Animal Control Office.

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