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Good Call On Dogs

Editorial for March 26, 2009

It appears that the city of White Salmon is poised to adopt a "dangerous dog" ordinance that is virtually the same as the one the Bingen City Council approved earlier this month.

That's good news.

The final vote has not yet been taken, and adoption of the dog control ordinance first must be the subject of a public hearing (currently scheduled for April 7, at 6 p.m., in the White Salmon Fire Hall) -- but we think White Salmon should follow Bingen's wise lead on this ordinance.

In the first place, because the cities of Bingen and White Salmon share a police department, it would be awkward for the community's police officers to have different dog ordinances in each jurisdiction. This move, provided the White Salmon City Council follows through, will make enforcement efforts much smoother for the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department's officers.

Even more important, however, is the reality that the ordinance Bingen approved is a sound one that is likely to make a real difference in at least reducing the likelihood of vicious dogs attacking people or their pets.

Bingen's ordinance takes a strong stance against the owners of dogs, of any breed, that have been declared "dangerous" or "potentially dangerous."

After an attack by a lone pit bull that put four Bingen residents in the hospital last July, the city is not messing around: "No person, firm, corporation, organization, or department may possess, harbor, keep, or have in custody in the city of Bingen a dangerous dog as dangerous dog is defined in Bingen Municipal Codes," read a section of Bingen's new ordinance.

Essentially, a "dangerous dog" is defined as a dog that inflicts severe injury on a human without provocation, or kills a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner's property. The "potentially dangerous dog" designation is only slightly more strict: Dogs in this category have inflicted unprovoked bites on humans or domestic animals or chases or menacingly approaches or charges people in any public area.

Bingen's new ordinance also strongly boosts the penalties for non-compliance with the new dog control ordinances. These penalties are now pretty serious, to the tune of $5,000 fines or a year in jail.

This ordinance is needed, in White Salmon as well as Bingen. No one should have to worry about being attacked for no reason while strolling along a city sidewalk somewhere.

JB

That's fair. If someone, or someone's pet, comes onto a private individual's property and gets bit by a dog, that's not covered

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