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Posted 5/13/09 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

One of the worst possible incidents imaginable involving a pet dog  is now forcing the Watford City City Council to seriously review its dog and pet ordinances. And the council’s review of its ordinances is probably long overdue considering the number of complaints that the city’s Police Department is receiving on dogs off leash.
At the focal point of the review was a recent incident in which a small dog that was being walked on leash by its owner down one of the city’s alleys was viciously attacked and critically injured by a large dog.
During last Monday’s city council meeting, the owners of the dog, which died a day after the attack, urged the council to strengthen its dog ordinances to prevent further attacks from occurring.
As I noted, the attack was one of the worst possible incidents that could have happened. But it could have been worse. Much worse.
In this case, the attack was made on another pet. But imagine what could have been the outcome if the dog had attacked a child or someone else with the same savagery?
The consequences of such an attack are unthinkable.
So what is the city council to do?
Not all dogs are bad dogs who pose a threat to other animals or to humans. Most of the dogs that I see in Watford City are good dogs. They are well cared for by their owners and when they are being walked, they are usually on a leash.
But common sense says that if a person owns a dog, then they should be required to have their dog in a fenced yard. And when the dog leaves its yard, it needs to be leashed. Plain and simple. It is the only way that a conscientious dog owner can safely protect their pet and protect others.
The real problem doesn’t lie with the pets themselves. The responsibility of the dog and its actions falls directly on the shoulders of the owners. And the owners need to be held accountable for the actions of their dogs.
Obviously, the city must revisit its ordinances governing dogs and other pets and do what it can to ensure that an attack like this cannot happen again. But the council also has to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to tightening its ordinances.