Dangerous dogs could be legally required to learn new tricks.
The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday postponed a vote to approve new rules that would allow animal control more flexibility in euthanizing dangerous dogs. Instead, the panel will consider additional rules that would require residents to rehabilitate their dogs after a first biting offense.
“The point is to make it so the dogs don’t bite again,” Mayor Nancy McFarlane said.
East Raleigh residents for years have asked Raleigh leaders to come down harder on residents who let their dogs run free and bite or terrorize others.
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Afraid to walk
Residents along the Raleigh Boulevard corridor, just east of downtown, have given examples of pit bulls and a rogue St. Bernard named Honey that repeatedly attacked local dogs and people in recent years. Some say the problem is so bad that they’re afraid to go on walks through their neighborhood.
Proposed changes expand the definition of a dangerous dog to include any dog that bites a person or domestic animal without provocation or “has approached a person when not on the owner’s property in a vicious or terrorizing manner.” Proposed changes would require people who witness a dog attack to report it to animal control, and would allow police to euthanize dogs that attack a person or animal more than once.
The now-defunct Law and Public Safety Committee, led by Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin, launched a review of the Raleigh’s policies in October and sent recommended changes to the City Council on Dec. 1.
Tuesday’s move was the third delay since then.
Council members said they postponed votes at the Dec. 1 and Jan. 5 meetings because they needed more time to consult with the city attorney about the proposed changes. Tom McCormick, the city attorney, on Tuesday said many of their concerns still linger.
Councilman Russ Stephenson wants to consider requiring owners of dangerous dogs that get loose to install child-proof locks on their dog enclosures. Baldwin wants to review the city’s tethering laws. The city prohibits residents from tying up their dogs for longer than three hours, but the law is hard for police to enforce and violations lead to aggressive dog behavior.
Rehab idea is new
McFarlane, meanwhile, said she wants city staff to come up with ways Raleigh police could get repeat offenders off the street without killing them. Specifically, she asked McCormick to investigate whether Raleigh can require residents to put their violent dogs through therapy or obedience school.
Some animal shelters screen dogs to determine whether they’re obedient enough to be adopted, McFarlane said. The city could require violent dogs to undergo similar screening before deciding whether to euthanize them, or to send them to therapy, she said.
“Nobody wants to do away with people’s dogs,” she said.
McFarlane’s dog rehabilitation idea is in its early stages, she said. So it’s unclear how long the city might require a violent dog to undergo rehab or how it might measure a dog’s potential for violence.
McCormick isn’t familiar with the legal or therapy options at the council’s disposal. He said he’ll probably call N.C. State University’s veterinary school to learn more.
“We can certainly see what type of psychological help is available to these dogs, if any,” McCormick told the council.
Colin Campbell contributed to this report