ADA — Tougher penalties against vicious and loose dogs, as well as new restrictions aimed at owners who keep their dogs tied up all day, were introduced at the regular meeting of Ada’s Village Council on Tuesday night. Council members unanimously voted in favor of them during the first of three readings of the legislation.
The legislation was inspired by a pit bull attack in July in which a pit bull that had escaped from its pen charged and attacked one of two dogs owned by Jim and Jackie Meyer, of Ada. Jim Meyer is the former village administrator of Ada.
The legislation would not ban or target pit bulls or any other breed, a focus that council members had previously considered. That idea prompted sharp criticism from pit bulls owners in Ada and beyond.
“I changed my opinion a lot on that after I talked to my vet, and my sister, who has five dogs,” Councilman Bob Simmons said at a council meeting in October. “It’s true, any dog can bite.”
Pit bull owners had showed up in large numbers, sometimes with their dogs, at Ada’s typically low-key and sparsely-attended public council meetings in recent months to criticize breed-specific legislation.
The new ordinance draws a clearer distinction between a “dangerous dog” and a “vicious dog.” Dogs trained for dog fighting are now automatically considered vicious dogs, a nod toward the fact that pit bulls are a favorite breed in the underground world of dog fighting. It boosts penalties for harboring a dangerous dog from a fourth-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree misdemeanor, and the fine from $250 to $500 for the first offense. Subsequent offenders are subject to 60 days in jail. Owners of vicious dogs face a charge of a first-degree misdemeanor, a $1,000 fine, and 180 days in jail.
There are also increased penalties for a dog running at large, and anti-tethering legislation that prevents dog owners from tying or chaining their dogs to dog houses or other stationary objects.
Jim Meyer suffered dog bites to his right hand and left forearm and abrasions to his knees from struggling with the pit bull. The Meyers’ Maltese-Shih Tzu mix, Maddie, suffered bites to the back of her neck and muzzle and lost a tooth. The pit bull was later euthanized by the Hardin County dog warden.
Jackie Meyer expressed gratitude that the village was strengthening its dog ordinances, but she said the legislation was not addressing her top concern: What law enforcement should do when confronted with an injured dog.
“There’s no procedure for how your dog gets to the vet,” she said, noting that, at the time of the attack, Ada police and Ohio Northern University security wanted the Meyers to stay on the scene, answer questions and get medical treatment for their injuries, despite their dog’s serious wounds.
Police Chief Mike Harnishfeger said there would be no change to his officers’ procedures.
“I certainly understand their concern for their dogs, but our concern must be people,” he said.
Pit bulls have raised concerns in many area communities. In Lima, city council members had expressed a desire to revisit the city’s dog ordinances and make them more stringent with regard to pit bulls, after two pit bulls attacked a police officer in October 2015. Meanwhile, under pressure from dog advocates, St Marys revised its dog ordinances to remove specific language targeting pit bulls.
The proposed ordinance will get three readings and three votes from council members. If it passes all three readings, it will go into effect after 30 days, unless council members deem it an emergency measure and vote to have it go into effect immediately.
Reach Amy Eddings at 567-242-0379 or Twitter, @lima_eddings.