HOBART | Potential new city regulations regarding vicious animals would put responsibility on pet owners, but it wouldn't single out specific breeds.
In front of residents who packed City Hall during Wednesday's Ordinance Committee meeting, Hobart leaders discussed several options to strengthen city ordinances, including imposing hefty fines, to prevent pet owners from teaching their animals violent behaviors.
City Attorney Anthony DeBonis said he created a draft of an ordinance that would charge a $2,500 fine if a pet attacks a person. A $500 fine would be charged if a pet attacks a domestic animal.
Discussion about new regulations started after concerns were expressed about pit bulls.
Resident Sherryl Doerr has told city officials she wants the breed singled out because her daughter, Melissa Blake, watched helplessly a few months ago while their pet dog was killed by a pit bull in their backyard.
DeBonis said breed-specific legislation doesn't work. He said any dog breed can be trained to be a vicious pet.
Other city leaders agreed that singling out a specific breed wouldn't be effective.
Councilman Jerry Herzog suggested changes to dangerous pet ordinances could require pet owners to pay for a special tag and receive a fine following a pet attack. The second offense would involve an increased fine and the pet would be euthanized, he proposed.
Councilman Pete Mendez also thinks a pet owner with multiple animals should have the remaining animals removed after a second offense. He thinks if an owner can't take care of one animal, the person wouldn't be able to handle multiple pets.
Residents proposed other action, including behavioral testing and mandatory training after a first offense in an effort to prevent future attacks.
One resident said if a pet owner has multiple animals, all of the animals should have behavioral testing if there is an attack involving one of the pets.
Councilmen haven't yet taken action about possible new regulations. They will continue to review the suggestions from city officials and hundreds of pages of comments Hobart has received from residents regarding the issue.
The matter will be discussed again during an Aug. 1 Ordinance Committee meeting.