By Wayne Allen
Common Staff Writer
The Portsmouth city health department submitted a second draft of vicious dog ordinance to be considered by council.
The department had submitted an earlier ordinance that if enacted would have deemed all pit bulls and wolf-hybrids vicious animals.
“A lot of people thought that (deeming all pit bulls and vicious animals) was unfair. There are some pit bulls that have no vicious bones in their body,” said Andy Gedeon, director of Environmental Health at the Portsmouth City Health Department.
“In this ordinance we made a compromise with members of city council. We worked extensively with them and what their constituents wanted to see in such an ordinance. The result was presented to council on Monday night.”
The proposed ordnance was presented on the Mayor’s conference agenda. After some debate council decided to allow the proposal to move forward. The proposed ordinance will be fully considered over the next three meetings allowing for three readings.
The ordinance defines “Vicious dogs” as having a habit of biting at children or other people or that has a propensity, tendency or disposition to attack, cause injury or otherwise endanger the safety of people or other animals.”
If the owner does not comply with the stipulations of the ordinance they’re subject to a misdemeanor charge, the severity of which depends on the number of violations the owner incurs.
“The vicious dog ordinance is a good thing because it will protect the public health. I’ve been doing this for 11 years in two different counties. In my professional experience a majority of the dog bites are pit bulls,” Gedeon said. “We are not picking on pit bulls with this ordinance; it is more of an overall vicious dog ordinance.”
Wendy Payton, animal control officer with the Portsmouth City Health Department, said the city had 161 complaints in 2011. She said 68 of those were pit bulls, or about 42 percent.