Animal control ordinance passes second reading

The longer maximum leash length allowed by a proposed animal control law is still too short, according to one dog owner.

Supporters and opponents of the proposed law spoke to the Fort Dodge City Council Monday – but no changes were made.

The second consideration of the ordinance passed 4-3. It must be approved once more to become law.

Council members Dean Hill, Mark Taylor, Don Wilson and Robert “Barney” Patterson voted yes, and Andy Fritz, Dave Flattery and Kim Alstott voted no.

Bob Sherman, who lives on Knollcrest Drive, said a 16-foot retractable leash may be enough for smaller dogs, but not for his big dogs, especially when he’s exercising them early in the morning out on the edge of town.

A 25-foot leash is better for them, he said.

The proposed law allows 16-foot retractable leashes, which must be shortened to 6 feet when approaching another person or animal.

Sherman also opposed the limit of six pets, with a maximum of three dogs.

“I don’t understand how you put a limit on ownership of dogs. I think that’s kind of arbitrary and capricious,” he said.

Sherman objected to the requirement that dogs be on leashes or fenced in at all times, even on their owner’s property.

But animals can leave a property quickly, said Tanya Elliot, of Almost Home Humane Society of North Central Iowa.

“Many people think their dog will stay in their yard, that they will listen to them,” she said.

Elliot’s uncle thought the same thing, she said, but his dog was killed by a car recently because one time he didn’t stay.

Council member Kim Alstott restated his opposition to the ban on letting dogs run loose, under supervision, in yards, and to the number limits.

He said this was just “going in and telling people what to do.”

“The way to stop this is to put a major fine on this,” he said. “If you have a dog that gets loose, and he gets caught, you would have a heavy fine.”

That way those who are doing nothing wrong won’t be punished, he said.

Dave Flattery also had concerns about restrictions to what people could do on private property.

Robert “Barney” Patterson disagreed. He said that most emails he receives are in favor of requiring a leash while walking, and object to the restrictions on letting dogs loose in lawns. But Patterson said it’s basically the same thing.

“People think they can control their animals in their own yards, but they can’t,” he said. “The public has a right to feel safe whether they’re walking past your home with your animal in your yard, or past you while you’re walking your animal.”

Mark Taylor said fines weren’t sufficient.

“How big does a fine need to be to put the face back on a little kid who has been attacked by a dog?” he said. “Do we have to wait for it to happen in this town?”