CHAGRIN FALLS — Police reports of dogs attacking people and pets this summer prompted the village Safety Committee to pen a “keeping of dangerous dogs” ordinance based on successful regulations adopted by nearby communities.

Council members could get their first look at the legislation on Monday pending the committee’s final review and formal recommendation.

The beefed-up ordinance came about after Chagrin Falls Police Chief Amber Dacek requested “more tools” after at least two repeat offender dogs had allegedly attacked and injured people and their pets and, in at least one case, killed the pet.

The ordinance does not single out any particular breed and exempts law enforcement K-9 officers.

A dangerous or vicious dog is described as one that has chased or approached in a menacing fashion or attack mode or attempted to bite or endanger or injure a person or domestic animal.

Any dog that bites – vicious, dangerous or not – is quarantined for 10 days under Cuyahoga County Board of Health rules.

One or more verified incidents and police reports of an attack in which another domestic animal was killed will result in a warning letter sent by the chief of police stating possible consequences of allowing the dog to be at large.

Chief Dacek said the pending ordinance states the police chief has the authority to take a dog but it is understood she could authorize another party to perform this act. Its not every animal or pet that gets confiscated, she stressed.

“The ordinance gives us more options than what we have but the officer has discretion unless it’s a constant problem,” she said

A dog proven vicious or dangerous must remain on its property at all times and its owner will be required to obtain a $20 permit, the proposal states.

In addition, a warning sign must be posted in the yard and owners of such dogs are required to carry $1 million worth of liability insurance. Proof of insurance must be presented at the time of registration.

If the owner fails to obtain a permit, the dog can be seized and impounded in a kennel chosen by the owner or the police department and released only after the owner produces a permit and pays impound and boarding fees.

If the animal is not reclaimed after five days, it will be considered abandoned and could be destroyed or “otherwise disposed of” by the village.

In the case of legal action, offending dogs must remain kenneled until a ruling is made. If the court deems them a repeat biter and continued threat, offending dogs could be ordered destroyed or “banished from the village.” There is an appeal process.

The ordinance states that when kept outdoors on its property, the dog must be penned or muzzled and tethered to a two-foot-deep in-ground stake to which a three-foot-long, 300-pound strength chain or leash is attached.

Dangerous or vicious dogs are not permitted to be walked on a leash outside of its own property.

Patios and porches are not acceptable as “keeping” locations. In addition owners of vicious and dangerous dogs kept indoors must secure areas through which the animal could escape including open doors and windows including those that are screened.

All dogs, no matter their temperament, must be licensed by the county in which it resides and may not run off leash in the village or its parks even if its owner is in the vicinity.

Councilman Andrew Rockey, the safety committee chairman, called for comments from residents toward the conclusions of the session. There were none.

“I am surprised , I was expecting members of the public to show up,” he told the committee.

“You know how people are about their dogs, no matter how bad we think it is to them, it’s a wonderful dog that would never hurt anybody,” offered committee member and Councilwoman Nancy Rogoff.

The committee briefly discussed whether to add cats to the regulations but agreed they are, so far, not a problem and complaints are few.

“I don’t think we have many cats running amok” in the village, Mr. Rockey mused. “Let’s leave it out for now. We could be starting an argument but if cats become an issue in the future we can always come back and take another look.”

A veteran reporter and columnist, Barbara Christian has been covering Chagrin Falls since 1967 and is currently responsible for Chagrin Falls village events, government and school board news along with her weekly column "Window on Main Street."

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