By JESSE BURKHARDT
Now that the city of Bingen has enacted a revised ordinance regarding dangerous dogs, it's White Salmon's turn to consider a similar move.
Earlier this month, Bingen's City Council members voted to impose substantially stricter standards on owners of dogs that harm people or domestic animals, and banned outright dogs that have been shown to be "dangerous" as their ordinance defines it.
To get the views of White Salmon's citizens, the White Salmon City Council has scheduled a public hearing on whether to adopt a more restrictive dog control ordinance.
The meeting will be held on April 1 in the council chambers in the White Salmon Fire Hall, beginning at 6 p.m.
Basically, Bingen's "dangerous" designation applies to dogs of any breed that have inflicted a serious injury on any person without provocation, or killed a pet or livestock without provocation while off the owner's property.
Dogs that have been classified as dangerous are not allowed to reside within the city limits of Bingen.
Failure to comply with the city's ordinances is punishable by a $5,000 fine or up to one year in jail.
Because the two cities share the same police department, White Salmon officials believe the city's best course is to adopt an ordinance that is essentially the same as Bingen's.
Among the proposed ordinance's backers is Bingen-White Salmon Police Chief Bruce Brending.
At the White Salmon City Council's March 18 meeting, Brending asked the council to take the next step in its review process.
"I recommend this be moved forward to a hearing for the public," Brending said. "White Salmon's ordinance should mirror this as much as possible. That would make enforcement easier."
Brending added that he believes Bingen's ordinance puts restrictions on dog owners that will help keep citizens from getting attacked by aggressive dogs.
"For ease of enforcement and for lack of problems for our officers, I'd like to see White Salmon's version stay the same," Brending explained.
White Salmon Council member Brad Roberts said he supports the ordinance as approved by the Bingen City Council.
Roberts pointed out that one of the most controversial measures under consideration a few months ago was a ban on certain dog breeds.
Last September, banning aggressive breeds such as pit bulls was discussed in a public hearing in White Salmon. A crowd of about 35 citizens showed up for the hearing, and those attending were strongly opposed to banning dogs based on breeds.
Roberts said he thinks the ordinance drafted by the Bingen City Council was wisely crafted and covers the key issues White Salmon's council has been considering.
"I really like the work Bingen did. This addresses our concerns, and is not breed-specific," Roberts explained.
White Salmon Mayor David Poucher was also impressed with Bingen's ordinance.
"Bingen really did a lot of work on this, and I don't think we'll find much to change. Maybe a little bit of wordsmithing. It doesn't ban breeds, and that's a much better way to go about it," Poucher said.
Poucher pointed out that he doesn't anticipate any serious controversy over the proposed ordinance.
"I think we'll adopt this as written," he said. "This has really been vetted."
Poucher added, however, that if specific concerns are raised in the public session, the ordinance could be altered.
"We're going to listen to what the public has to say," Poucher said. "If there is a lot of concern over some issue, I'm not going to push the council for a vote. The whole purpose of a public hearing is to get public input. But if the public is generally happy with it, we'll probably go ahead and approve it that night."