9 On Your Side delivers viewers' dog attack prevention ideas
CREATED Mar 8, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A pair of pit bulls mauls an elderly woman. The vicious dog attack, along many others before it, has stirred 9 On Your Side viewers. Many are demanding change, looking to owners and to city government to get it. 9 On Your Side took their ideas to mayor and council Thursday.
Viewer Jewel Jade didn't mince words on the 9 On Your Side Facebook page, writing, “Now is your chance, lawmakers (especially Mr. Mayor) to show that you are caring, intelligent people with backbones that can stand up and say, 'Enough is enough! No more attacks, no more maulings, no more deaths, no more PIT BULLS!’”
Jade hopes this issue is on the minds of Tucson's mayor and council. “Is it?” reporter Kevin Keen asked Councilwoman Karin Ulich.”It is and, in fact, I've had meetings with members of the advisory committee to animal care,” the ward three representative answered. “It's under the county's prevue, but we had very constructive conversations.”
Ulich says city and county government agencies and organizations, namely Pima County Animal Care, are exploring options to prevent dog attacks, including “fencing requirements--beyond just leash requirements--fencing, additional devices that would prevent a dog from biting even if it's on a leash.”
Viewer Edward Dunham offers another suggestion: "Time for a city-wide ordinance. 'If your dog attacks and sends a person to the hospital you serve 90 days in jail.’”
“Jail time. Are we talking that serious?” Keen asked Ulich. “I don't know whether that's been discussed. I think that even if it's some kind of probationary action, quite frankly, whether or not the person should be entitled to own dogs in the future and possibly some kind of jail time. I don't know how far this community wants to take it.”
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild told 9 On Your Side he would favor tougher consequences for owners whose dogs attack. “We could look at, as a political body, trying to make the penalties stiffer,” he said. “By state law, on a misdemeanor, you can only go up to year. We could take fines up.”
“I don't think stronger penalties are going to inculcate in somebody's head--get into somebody's head,” said councilman Steve Kozachik, who has a different take on what government should do.
“We have ordinances on the books and the burden shifts to the dog owner--to the animal owner to adhere to what is on the books right now,” the ward six rep said. “Control your animals. Raise them properly.”
“Should there be more enforcement then of what is already on the books?” Keen asked Kozachik. “We have a resource issue, let's not kid ourselves,” he answered. “We can't have police and animal control center driving around town specifically looking for stray animals.”
Kozachik said change will come when certain owners do. Keen asked him: “Is there a way to get that message to owners? To change things?” Kozachik replied: “Well, you're helping to do it. The coverage that you guys give to this issue is important.”
Holding owners more accountable is an idea every local leader 9 On Your Side spoke to Thursday shared. Everyone also talked about making sure owners of potentially aggressive dogs know the risks and the caution they should take with them. Council members think owners could be educated and warned when they purchase their dog licenses.