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Darby on dog action


Darby’s pit bulls may soon find themselves in the peculiar position of being both in and out of the doghouse after the Town Council voted June 15 to ban the beasts from city limits. Though the ordinance, which would ban pit bulls and other breeds with aggressive reputations, passed 3–1 on its first reading, a second reading scheduled for June 28 and a 30-day waiting period to allow for public comment are still required before the law hits the books.

The breeds to be banned include bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Pit Bull terriers, American Staffordshires, any mutt crossed with one of those breeds and any dog that has the “appearance and characteristics” of those breeds. Darby Marshal Larry Rose recently requested the ordinance in response to four cases of pit bull attacks in town.

The same night the Darby council approved the pit bull ban, it also beefed up Darby’s vicious animal ordinance, expanding the definition of such creatures and increasing punishments for their owners to up to six months of jail time and a maximum $500 fine.

Carol Marshall, who is wary of law enforcement being asked to distinguish among breeds, and who notes that an existing vicious animal ordinance covers trouble dogs of all pedigrees, was the lone vote against the ordinance.

“A vicious dog is a vicious dog,” she says, adding that she believes in owner responsibility. “I’m not really one to think that we should ban breeds.”

Mayor Rick Scheele, who proposed the ordinance, says he thinks the pit bull ban is necessary, even on top of the vicious animal law, because “a lot of places consider the pit bull a land shark. They are a very aggressive dog.” Scheele says he might support adding a provision to grandfather in pit bulls that already live in town.

Such a loophole, though, would seem to exclude the very dogs that prompted the ban as well as increase the potential headache for law enforcement. That pit bulls can be sweet and other breeds can be surly seems to have been lost in the shuffle as well.

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