West Allis takes some of the bite out of dog ordinance

Jan. 10, 2012

West Allis - The city's dangerous dog ordinance, which was approved after long discussions in 2009, has been fine-tuned to make a bit easier on dog owners and the city.

Under the revision, dog owners have longer to appeal if their dogs are deemed to be dangerous. The original ordinance gave them 72 hours. The new one gives them 30 days.

It was just too short a time and was unfair to dog owners, city attorney Scott Post said of the 72-hour deadline.

The other change the West Allis Common Council approved recently gives the city health commissioner authority to order dog owners to take extra safety measures in certain cases without a hearing. Previously, the city could not order those extra measures until after a hearing, Post said.

The health commissioner could only take such authority with minor offenses, Post said, explaining that hearings will continue to be held for dogs involved in more serious offenses.

While more flexible than before, the rules still ensure the public safety, he added.

Under the dangerous dogs ordinance, owners of dogs that have been deemed to be dangerous have to keep them confined unless leashed and muzzled, register the animal for $75 with the Police Department, display a sign at the residence, spay or neuter the dog, and place a microchip on the dog for easier identification.

Violations could result in fines ranging from $50 to $1,000. In extreme cases, such as a dog that has killed a domesticated animal unprovoked, it would not be allowed in the city at all.

- Jane Ford-Stewart

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