Hobart's proposed vicious animal ordinance still needs tweaking

2012-08-27T00:00:00Z 2013-02-22T16:42:04Z Hobart's proposed vicious animal ordinance still needs tweakingDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

HOBART | The City Council still is revising an ordinance regulating vicious animals, council President David Vinzant said.

"Most things have been settled with the consensus that the revised ordinance will not be breed-specific," Vinzant said.

Instead, the revised ordinance will put more responsibility on pet owners and put in place stiffer fines.

Before the revised ordinance is finished, officials need to meet with Hobart Humane Society representatives.

"We need to go over the enforcement process, including who writes tickets and who goes to court hearings," Vinzant said.

Residents packed City Hall last month when officials discussed the proposed changes during an Ordinance Committee meeting.

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.

At its meeting June 20, the City Council agreed to discuss its dog ordinance and consider making changes.

The discussion was proposed after an emotional presentation by resident Sherryl Doerr. She attended the meeting with several other residents who have had pit bulls attack their pets.

One of those residents was Melissa Blake, Doerr's daughter.

Blake said she watched helplessly as her pet dog, Barney, a 12-pound terrier-poodle mix, was attacked and viciously killed by a pit bull in her backyard.

Mike Jewett, a spokesman for Northwest Indiana Pet Alliance, said his group adamantly opposes singling out specific breeds.

The group's goals include educating the public about being responsible dog owners and communicating with officials about creating improved dog ordinances.

"The biggest key is enforcement," Jewett said. "The majority of ordinances throughout the area are not being enforced."

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