By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
When Washington Police Chief Greg Goodman wanted to see how much an average citation for a dog running at large cost the dog?s owner, he looked up the results of one case at random. The citation had cost the dog owner $148.
Over the last couple of months there have been several incidents involving dogs. Goodman said several of the incidents had occurred because the dog had gotten loose and was running at large. He said the Washington Police Department generally gives one warning and then begins writing citations for the infractions. Goodman commented that officers can?t seize every dog running at large because the six stalls at the city pound would soon be full and there would be no place to store the animals.
?We have good years and bad years,? Goodman said. ?There have been issues with dogs running at large. I think there are a lot of people who just let their dogs out and let them run, which is against city code. Dogs are supposed to be controlled by leashes or invisible fences. They have to be able to keep them in the yard or near. A lot of people let their dogs out and not everyone likes dogs. When that dog runs up to someone it can cause a problem.?
Recently several people had approached the Washington City Council in reference to an incident in which a pit bull allegedly chased one subject and jumped on another. Goodman said that dog would be cited as soon as the owners are located, but because no injury was done, it doesn?t fall under the city?s definition of a vicious animal.
Recently there was an incident in which a dog attacked another dog and the owner of that dog. A hearing was held with City Administrator Brent Hinson and the dog was ?humanely destroyed.? There was another incident in which a child had been injured. The dog also will be humanely destroyed in a few days.
?By letting your dog loose, you are taking a lot of risks,? Goodman said. ?Also by letting a dog loose, the owner is responsible for medical bills and all expenses. They are responsible for all damages.?
He said there are also new tether ordinances that the Washington City Council recently approved. The new ordinance requires a responsible party to be at the premises where the animal is tethered.
A minimum confinement area for an animal is 100 square feet per dog. The dog has to be in good condition and have food, shelter and water.
Goodman also said a dog escaping is the responsibility of the owner.
He said if a dog accidentally escapes, the owner should contact the Washington County Communications Center at 653-2107 to let them know the dog is loose and so police can help them locate the dog.