Wednesday, August 13, 2008
In the aftermath of a vicious attack by a pit bull in Bingen, the Bingen City Council will discuss banning pit bulls and other potentially dangerous dog breeds.
The council's move to review details of a possible ban is the result of a July 18 incident that put four Bingen residents in the hospital. On that date, a pit bull owned by a neighbor attacked four adult members of the Sanchez family, who were in their own yard on Alder Street at the time of the attack. All four -- Silviano Sanchez, Graciela Sanchez, Mayra Sanchez, and Rosario Rincon -- suffered serious bite wounds and were taken to Skyline Hospital for treatment.
"We're going to put together options for trying to increase the city's authority when it comes to potentially dangerous dogs," explained Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel. "We'll look at how other cities deal with banning dogs, and we are going to put together some information for the council to look at."
One of the main objectives of the council's consideration of a possible ban on specific breeds would be to look at how other jurisdictions define dog breeds.
Prigel said the biggest problem with a possible ordinance banning a certain breed would be with enforcing the measure.
"We would have to have a veterinarian sign an affidavit declaring what type of dog each one is. It would be very difficult to enforce," Prigel said.
Terry Trantow, a member of the Bingen City Council, pointed out that at the council's last meeting, Tad Connors, attorney for the city of Bingen, noted that there were inherent difficulties in identifying specific breeds. The issue of how to identify off-breeds makes the issue even more complex.
As a result, Trantow said he did not believe the council would enact any bans on a certain breed of dog.
"I don't think we're going to go that route," Trantow said. "I don't see us going after a particular breed. It's too much of a knee-jerk reaction. Everybody seems to point to pit bulls, but a little nipper can be just as dangerous. To single out a specific breed is to do an injustice."
Trantow noted that the council will also consider other methods to put stricter requirements on potentially dangerous dogs to try to ensure no attacks happen again.
According to Prigel, the pit bull that attacked the Sanchez family members had been in trouble even more than authorities realized. City and police officials knew the dog involved in the July 18 attack had also bit two other people in April. But they didn't know there had been another attack after that that was not reported to the police.
"Unfortunately, this dog had been involved in multiple incidents, and no one reported them. Had they reported them, this (July 18 attack) would not have happened," Prigel said. "If the police are not made aware of the incidents, they can't do anything."
"We want to indicate that everyone has responsibility in this," added Trantow. "When something like this happens, not reporting it is not being responsible. The bottom line is, people have to be responsible for their dogs. That's the biggest problem."
Although the upcoming meeting agendas have not yet been set, the Bingen City Council is tentatively expected to discuss a possible ban on dog breeds at the council's first meeting in September. That meeting is scheduled for Sept. 2.
Prigel said the council members are not likely to come to a final decision during that meeting, but are expected to determine whether they want to move ahead with proposals to put specific bans in place.
Trantow does not believe that will happen.
"We may revisit that topic, but I kind of think it's a dead issue," Trantow said. "We'll go toward more responsibility for dog owners and take it from that direction."