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Sturtevant adopts harsher dangerous-animal ordinance
Sturtevant

Sturtevant adopts harsher dangerous-animal ordinance

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STURTEVANT — One year after the Sturtevant Village Board began discussing the matter, the board has adopted a much tougher ordinance pertaining to “dangerous animals.”

By unanimous voice vote, last week Tuesday the board adopted a new, 6½-page dangerous-animal ordinance which replaces the old, one-plus-page legislation. The ordinance defines four levels of incidents. The highest, a “Level Four” incident, requires the dog to be euthanized or banished from the village for one aggressive bite.

Even a Level Three incident requires the dog to be muzzled whenever it is off the owner’s or caretaker’s premises from that point forward.

Under the village’s previous ordinance, an animal was deemed dangerous if it caused two unprovoked bites or injuries to a person or pet within a 12-month period. Discussion about strengthening the ordinance began after a few incidents last year involving a senior citizen who was bitten on the hand and had his small dog killed by a large dog that had escaped its yard.

Village Trustee Stu Ten Cate, who took office midstream during the lingering ordinance discussions, said he contacted the Wisconsin Humane Society for guidance in formulating an ordinance. WHS provided him with the ordinance used by Multnomah County, Ore., and Ten Cate said he combined that with what the board had been considering previously.

Four levels and consequences

The four levels of “potentially dangerous animal” classifications spelled out in the new ordinance each have their own ascending consequences.

However, the ordinance also states that “the enforcement officer or the (Village Board’s) Public Safety Committee shall have the discretionary authority to refrain from classifying an animal as a dangerous animal or as a potentially dangerous animal, even if the animal has engaged in the behaviors specified in division (A) of this section, if the enforcement officer or the Public Safety Committee determines that the behavior was the result of the victim abusing or tormenting the animal or was directed towards a trespasser or other extenuating circumstances that establishes that the animal does not constitute an unreasonable risk to human life or property.”

Starting at the lowest level of incident, the ordinance states, “Level 1 behavior is established if an animal at large is found to menace, chase, display threatening or aggressive behavior or otherwise threaten or endanger the safety of any person.”

The consequence is that the dog must thereafter be controlled and not allowed off its property unrestrained. Ten Cate said that does not prohibit the owner from walking the dog on a leash.

Level 2 behavior is established “if an animal, while at large, causes physical injury to any domestic animal.” The owner or caretaker may be required to maintain liability insurance and/or complete a responsible pet ownership program.

Level 3 behavior is established if an animal, while confined, aggressively bites a person. That level contains the same consequences as Level 2, and the animal must also be muzzled when off its property from that point onward.

Level 4 is reached by any of three different ways including the animal aggressively biting any person. Such an animal must be euthanized or removed from the village. In addition, the officer or Public Safety Committee may suspend the animal’s owner’s right to have any other animals in the village, which may include others currently owned.

“(The ordinance) seems very harsh, but I think in the long run it will be a very good ordinance,” Ten Cate said. “We have to look at the greater good.”

Dog park update

In another dog-related matter, village Trustee Carrie Harbach said last week that plans have been completed for a dog park with separate large and small dog areas on Broadway Drive along the west and north side of Broadway Pond.

A parking lot for the park has been started and Statewide Fencing of Caledonia was awarded the contract for the project. The materials have been ordered with a tentative completion date of Oct. 1, Harbach said. “Signage is being ordered, and the village anticipates that owners with their dogs will be able to use the park beginning in early fall.”

“(The ordinance) seems very harsh, but I think in the long run it will be a very good ordinance. We have to look at the greater good.” Stuart Ten Cate, Sturtevant village trustee

“(The ordinance) seems very harsh, but I think in the long run it will be a very good ordinance. We have to look at the greater good.”

Stuart Ten Cate, Sturtevant village trustee

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Reporter

Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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