BARSTOW • After months of planning, the City Council will be deciding on Tuesday night if they will move forward with a new ordinance to better oversee potentially dangerous or vicious dogs.

The ordinance defines potentially dangerous as well as vicious dogs, because a previous ordinance passed in 1967 only regulated vicious dogs. The new law also includes provisions to keep potentially dangerous and vicious dogs from further harming people or domestic animals.

Owners of confirmed potentially dangerous or vicious dogs will have to pay fines and may be convicted of a misdemeanor if they do not follow all of the ordinance conditions. Part of the ordinance will allow the city to post information about the dogs on its website, including the street address where the dog is located, description and photo of the dog and the reason the dog was declared to be potentially dangerous or vicious.

Animal control, humane or police officers must have probable cause that a dog is potentially dangerous or vicious to set a public hearing regarding the matter. Owners will be notified before the hearing and will be able to respond to the accusation at the public hearing. If the investigation determines that the dog is not potentially dangerous or vicious, the dog will be immediately released to the owner. If the owner of a dog that has been determined to be vicious or potentially dangerous does not reclaim their dog after three business days, the dog may be euthanized.

If the dog is determined to be either potentially dangerous or vicious, the city may impose several conditions on owners if they want to keep their animal. The city will require either type of dog to be housed in an enclosure with a floor made of concrete as well as a roof, which has to be inside a securely fenced yard with locked gates. The owner would also have to vaccinate and license the dog and may have to have the dog spayed or neutered. The city will require people with potentially dangerous or vicious dogs to take out an insurance policy with up to $100,000 worth of coverage in case the dog injures or kills a person.

The city may also require the owner of a vicious dog to humanely euthanize the animal as a last resort. If the dog is confined to a pen that it can't escape from and potentially hurt people or animals, then people  may be able to keep them, said Mayor Pro Tem Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre.

One of the members of the committee that drafted the ordinance hopes people will be able to be held more accountable for their pets  as a result of the proposed rules.

"(Dog owners) have got to treat the animals correctly with love and respect," said Councilman Tim Saenz.

Tuesday's City Council meeting will be held in the City Council chambers at 220 East Mountain View at 7:30 p.m. The meeting will also be aired live on Channel 6 from Time Warner Cable.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4122 or kjonas@desertdispatch.com