OPINION: Prohibit conditions that create dangerous dogs

Heartfelt condolences to Maurice Brown’s family regarding the terrible, fatal dog attack Mr. Brown suffered in an alley near 345 Middle St. in Dayton recently. Under similar circumstances, I used this space to mourn the death of Klonda Richie in June 2014.

At that time, I asked our community leaders to address the root causes of dangerous dogs by getting perpetually chained “backyard dogs” out of our community. Dogs must be securely, humanely and responsibly confined to the property using a sturdy fence when they are outside for reasonable durations. Neglected, desperate, unsocialized dogs can become dangerous.

The Middle Street dog broke loose from a chain. Perpetual dog chaining is illegal pursuant to Dayton City Ordinance 91.62 which can be found on the City of Dayton Website under Laws and Ordinances. It requires that no dog shall be chained or tethered to a stationary point for more than two consecutive hours in a 12-hour period or on a trolley system for more than 12 consecutive hours.

It could have prevented another death but has largely gone unenforced, ostensibly because of difficulty proving violation of the timing limits. Ample evidence that a dog is never off the chain include bare ground, fly-bitten ears, manure piles and neurotic “chain-crazy” behavior. Sworn reports from neighbors can be used to corroborate charges. Other provisions of ordinance 91.62 are readily enforceable: continuous access to water and shelter; a proper collar that is not a choke, prong or pinch collar; and a minimum 15-foot chain that has swivels at both ends and is away from entanglement hazards. In Dayton, call the police at the non-emergency number: 937- 333-2677 to report violations.

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Pit bulls are often mistakenly portrayed as demons who are inherently more dangerous than other dogs. Targeting a specific breed is shortsighted and can lead to a false sense of accomplishment. Sadly, powerful dogs can attract the worst types of owners ranging from people who want to look tough (and then do not train or socialize their tough dog) to criminal dogfighters who systematically torture, starve and drug dogs to make them vicious. Do you agree that the vicious ones are not the dogs, but the sadistic humans who starve and torture the dogs? Dog fighters must be caught and prosecuted.

Dogs have evolved with humans for thousands of years. Statistically a person is far more likely to be killed by another human than by a dog. Dogs are pack animals who suffer when they are isolated and ignored. Any dog can become aggressive if forced to live chained by the neck in one spot forever. Which dog is more likely to cause a problem, the one who has had only limited and negative associations with humans or the one who is inside and part of the family?

Neighbors had expressed concerns about the Middle Street dogs. Animal Resource officers had responded to a complaint concerning the dog’s welfare. Not everyone cares about dogs, but those who do not properly care for them should not be allowed to have one.

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There are a lot of needs competing for our city resources. This is literally a life and death issue and as such must be a priority. Chaining bans lead to safer, cleaner communities. Dayton should improve Ordinance 91.62 and enforce it. In West Carrollton, it is illegal to keep a dog tethered between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and in extreme weather. Adding these provisions to 91.62 would be a good start. Something else worth addressing — 86 percent of fatal canine attacks involve un-neutered male dogs, according to the American Humane Society.

If you care about animals and want laws to protect them in a safer, more progressive community please like Vote 4 Animals Help Chained Dogs in Dayton Ohio on Facebook.

Gail Downie is an animal advocate and a vegetarian.