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THURSDAY, JUNE 16, 2011   
Vol 4.24   
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Dogs Gone Wild
String of Attacks Prompts Village to Act

ELLENVILLE – A public hearing is scheduled for June 27 to gain public input on the ongoing problem of dog attacks in the village, particularly concerning pit bulls. Residents are encouraged to attend.

The hearing is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Village Attorney Peter Berger is drawing up a local law addressing dog control in the village, and it will be discussed during the hearing. Concern about pit bulls came to a head May 6, when resident Woody Basden allegedly stabbed a pit bull he says lunged at his pit bull. Another attack occurred May 31, when a leashed pit bull savagely bit a village boy.

Village Police Chief Phil Mattracion spoke to the Village Board about pit bull control during Monday's regular board meeting. Ironically, during the meeting, police responded to yet another dog bite from a pit bull. This time, a pit bull bit its owner at 9 Roslyn St. and attacked the family cat, mortally wounding it.

"We just can't tolerate these types of attacks on innocent civilians," Mattracion said. "We all know that dogs are the result of how they're trained... We know that's not going to change but we need to enforce a change." He noted that recently, a pit bull was found running loose in the school parking lot. Police located the owner, corralled the dog, and charged the owner with permitting a dog to run at large. "We have zero tolerance for that," he added.

Mayor Jeff Kaplan said there are "dangerous dog" laws, licensing laws, and leash laws in the village. "The question is A: Do we establish requirements and restrictions that go beyond what's out there now, and B: How do we go about doing it? It's not an easy issue but it's one that we need to discuss."

He said the village could establish laws that ban certain breeds from the downtown area, but said that dog owners might protest such a ban.

Berger said Village Manager Mary Sheeley, who was ill and could not attend the meeting, has researched the matter and will meet with Berger to discuss a new dog ordinance.

Resident Iris Friedman lauded the idea of increased dog control. "I'm a dog lover," she said. "I love dogs that are well trained and properly cared for by their owners. But any dog unleashed makes me nervous."

She said she's noticed more and more pit bulls and Rottweilers in the village, being purchased as status symbols for their owners. So she is in favor of muzzling the dogs in the downtown area. Chief Mattracion agreed that there is an influx of pit bulls in the area. He said that he recently counted five pit bulls during his two-mile run.

Trustee Efrain Lopez agreed. "Years ago, we didn't have this problem," he said. "I see a dog like this" — he pointed to a picture of a pit bull — "and I get intimidated."

Trustee Raymond Younger said he favored banning all types of dogs from the downtown area. He said whatever the board decides should be done expeditiously. "Some of these handlers are young kids, and these dogs are pulling them," he said. A dog he encountered recently had a muzzle and leash and still tried to lunge at him, Younger said.

Kaplan directed Berger to draft a local law to be discussed at the June 27 meeting and voted on at a later date.



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